DOWNLOAD A COPY OF: “Living Water Smart in British Columbia: Strong, Informed, and Enduring Political Leadership is a Foundation Piece” – released by the Partnership for Water Sustainability in March 2022


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; and embrace “design with nature” approaches to reconnect people, land, fish, and water in altered landscapes. 

The edition published on March 22, 2022 featured an interview with Ben Geselbracht, a local government elected representative, about his role in shepherding implementation of the Second 10-Year Action Plan for Drinking Water & Watershed Protection (DWWP), a precedent-setting program that serves the Regional District of Nanaimo. Director Ben Geselbracht is one of three Board members who guided DWWP Action Plan 2.0 over the finish line. 

Strong, informed, and enduring political leadership is a foundation piece for the Nanaimo region’s Drinking Water and Watershed Protection program

British Columbians have arrived at an inter-generational moment in history. Viewed in this context, the enduring strength of “Living Water Smart as an idea” lies in its recognition that provincial collaboration with local government and community takes place outside the legislative framework.

The progress of a transformational process such as Living Water Smart is measured in terms of decades, not years. It is a journey. There is no short cut. In Decade One, build consensus and get the foundation in place. In Decade Two, erect the framework for action. Entering Decade Three, one should be ready for the bold leap forward.

Partnerships, partnerships, partnerships

The story of the Regional District of Nanaimo’s Drinking Water & Watershed Protection program (DWWP) exemplifies and embodies all of the above. It took a decade of hard work to create the DWWP through a precedent-setting referendum.

In 2008, voters approved a parcel tax as a financial mechanism for assured program funding. The program is now in its second 10-year Action Plan. The program is defined by partnerships, internal and external.

DWWP Service is a container for ‘the 5Cs’

The Venn diagram below is a high-level way of visualizing the context for the DWWP.  An over-arching goal of drinking water and watershed protection in the Regional District of Nanaimo (RDN) is to transform good intentions and associated policies into effective practices on the ground. Getting such practices right is key to achieving beneficial outcomes, and, ultimately serving the common good.

Funding, People and Continuity

Beneficial outcomes depend on alignment of interests within a regional team framework, such that all players involved in the local government mix are guided by shared responsibility and collaborative leadership. These are foundational ingredients.

The 5Cs – communication, cooperation, coordination, and critical thinking and creativity – are also essential ingredients. The DWWP Service is the container to hold the 5Cs. What is the container? It is funding, people and continuity.

DWWP themes encapsulate what collaborative leadership looks like in practice

When leadership is shared among members, rather than turning to one heroic leader to guide and be the expert, it is known as collaborative leadership.

It involves bringing the right people together in constructive ways with good information, such that they create authentic visions and strategies for addressing the shared concerns of their organizations and community. Thus, collaborative leadership is an apt description of the DWWP process. The DWWP program is built on three themes.

DWWP Theme One is Education and Awareness (influencing behaviour).

DWWP Theme Two is Building Knowledge (science and data) for good decision-making.

DWWP Theme Three is Supporting Sound Land Use Decision-Making.

Scroll down and read about the interview with Ben Geselbracht, local government elected representative. He is one of three RDN Board members who were tasked with responsibility for guiding DWWP Action Plan 2.0 over the finish line in 2020.


To read the complete story published on March 22nd 2022, download a PDF copy of “Living Water Smart in British Columbia: Strong, Informed, and Enduring Political Leadership is a Foundation Piece”.