DOWNLOAD A COPY OF: “Living Water Smart in British Columbia: Restore Hydrology in the Uplands to Protect Agriculture in the Lowlands” – released by the Partnership for Water Sustainability in January 2022

Note to Reader:

Originally published in May 2017, the following article is about lowland drainage. The spotlight is on the “ARDSA criteria” that have defined standard engineering practice for a half-century. Understanding ARDSA criteria remains relevant to the policy, program and regulatory framework for land and water stewardship in this province, especially in the wake of the devastating Fraser Valley flooding that occurred in November 2021.

Restore Hydrology in the Uplands; Protect Agriculture in the Lowlands

Originally titled What the “Whole-System, Water Balance Approach” means for Lowland Drainage in British Columbia, the article connects the dots between past, present, and future. Formerly the Senior Engineer in the BC Ministry of Agriculture, Ted van der Gulik explains the genesis for agricultural drainage regulatory objectives in British Columbia.

The governments of Canada and British Columbia, he reminds us, established a set of criteria which determined the level of drainage improvements that were deemed to be acceptable in terms of cost-benefit, and the ability to pay. The supporting analysis, he adds, optimized the relationship between agricultural return on production and cost of drainage infrastructure investment.  These came to be known as the ARDSA criteria.

Although reference continues to be made in engineering reports to the ARDSA drainage criteria, there is an absence of recognition of the underlying cost-benefit criteria. Ted van der Gulik believes this reflects a loss of understanding that could have potentially serious implications for current and future decision-making.

In the article, Ted van der Gulik concludes, “Clearly, there is a need to inform and educate a new generation of practitioners and decision-makers about the thinking and the analytical process that resulted in the ARDSA drainage criteria. This would help equip a new generation to make knowledge-based decisions.” The need is still there.


To read the complete story, download a PDF copy of Living Water Smart in British Columbia: Restore Hydrology in the Uplands to Protect Agriculture in the Lowlands.