DOWNLOAD A COPY OF: “Living Water Smart in British Columbia: Design With Nature Framework for Integrating Across Infrastructure Systems” – released by the Partnership for Water Sustainability in February 2022

Note to Reader:

Waterbucket eNews celebrates the leadership of individuals and organizations who are guided by the vision for Living Water Smart in British Columbia to build greener communities and adapt to a changing climate. The edition published on February 15, 2022 featured a conversation with Dr. Zbigniew Grabowski of the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies, and Tim Pringle, Chair of the Ecological Accounting Process (EAP) initiative. Dr. Grabowski is the lead author of a nationwide survey titled What is green infrastructure? A study of definitions in US city planning.

EAP is a Land Use Perspective

“The story of EAP is how we got to the idea of the stream corridor system as a Natural Commons and connecting it to the challenge for streams to survive in an urban or urbanizing setting. The driver is degradation of stream channels and streamside riparian setback zones. EAP establishes the methodology and metrics for tackling the Riparian Deficit,” Tim Pringle explained to Zbigniew Grabowski.

“The strength of EAP is in how it looks at and values streams as systems, as natural commons assets, and as a land use. A stream corridor is a land use because it satisfies two criteria: it is defined in the Riparian Areas Protection Regulations Act, and it has a financial value. One can draw a direct line from EAP to the Act, renamed in 2016 after originally becoming law in 1997 as the Fish Protection Act.”

“The land supports assets that provide services. And decisions are made at the parcel scale. Thus, we are tied to the past through historical subdivision of land. This means we must understand the biology of land use. The human analogy is DNA.”

“Getting it right starts at the parcel scale and recognizing that every parcel is interconnected within a system. EAP is the only ecological methodology that deals with the parcel. Getting it right at the parcel scale is a shared responsibility. Everyone involved in land use and development, from start to finish, must understand the goal in doing business differently because the status quo is resulting in unacceptable consequences.”

Investigative process resulted in the proposed “synthetic definition” of green infrastructure

Dr. Grabowski explained their Aha Moment when carrying out the nationwide document analysis, “We had this moment of realization about the diversity of plans when it clicked in our minds about analyzing all the plans in terms of three big buckets: something that is very stormwater-focused, something that is very land-focused, and something that is trying to integrate the two.”

“In the process, we started to uncover this grain of systems thinking within green infrastructure planning. It is like a crystal within a larger chaotic mix of planning ideas, an idea allowing us to integrate many different infrastructure systems.”

“I have talked to folks at the US EPA. Even within that organization, there is confusion around what green infrastructure means. Maybe, if we just crystalize that nugget of an idea even more, it will catalyze a more structured way of thinking about these things in US urban planning and beyond.”

“We can deal with stormwater, and we can deal with landscape values in conservation. We can do so through a systems framework. By proffering a synthetic definition that places relationships between systems, in order to design a green infrastructure system at its core, we hope our work might be able to advance that conceptual agenda.”


To read the complete story published on February 15th 2022, download a PDF copy of Living Water Smart in British Columbia: Design With Nature Framework for Integrating Across Infrastructure Systems.

The article has two parts. Part 1 delves into the “story behind the news release” to understand what the nationwide analysis revealed. It highlights from a conversation with “Dr. Z” and Tim Pringle, Chair of the Partnership’s Ecological Accounting Process (EAP) initiative. Part 2 introduces the idea of the “green infrastructure continuum”.

The Partnership uses the term “green infrastructure continuum” to frame how green infrastructure understanding and the state-of-the-art around it are building on experience and evolving over time. The continuum idea provides context for milestones on the green infrastructure journey in British Columbia.