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2005 Penticton Water IN = Water OUT Workshop

ACHIEVING WATER BALANCE: Looking back, the “Water OUT = Water IN Workshop” held in the Okanagan showcased shared responsibility and represented a giant leap forward in terms of mainstreaming the Water Sustainability Action Plan for British Columbia within the provincial government (April 2005)


The Water Sustainability Action Plan provides an umbrella for on-the-ground initiatives that inform Provincial policy through the shared responsibility model. Lynn Kriwoken played an instrumental role in the creation and launching of the Action Plan in February 2004. She connected the dots between her Ministry’s Service Plan and the Action Plan potential as a top-down and bottom-up initiative. There was a natural fit. It was her advocacy within government that got the ball rolling and resulted in a self-fulfilling prophecy. Without Lynn Kriwoken, there would not have been an Action Plan.

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ACHIEVING WATER BALANCE: Program Structure & Key Messages for a Convening for Action Workshop on Dealing with Uncertainty and Managing Risk in Water Supply Management – “The old approach of ‘super-sizing’ has proven expensive and is no longer sustainable,” stated Ray Fung, Chair of the BC Water Sustainability Committee (April 2005)


“The workshop connected the dots between water resource planning, climate variability and risk management to provide an understanding of how Demand Management tools and techniques can achieve a balance between supply and demand. This technical transfer session explored the tools and techniques available through demand-side management to achieve a water balance without relying on new sources and infrastructure,” stated Ray Fung.

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ACHIEVING WATER BALANCE: “We are building a language and getting people involved. We are developing ideas and educating people,” stated Kim Stephens at the workshop that launched the Convening for Action in British Columbia initiative, (April 2005)


“The program was carefully planned and provided a blend of policy and technical. The District of Highlands Case Study made the day real for participants. The workshop attracted a diverse audience.weighted towards water system operators, but also included a smattering of elected officials and community groups. In short, there was a good mix of perspectives for the purposes of stimulating discussion in the Breakout Session . This meant that the workshop content had to be communicated in a way that would resonate with all participants,” stated Kim Stephens.

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ACHIEVING WATER BALANCE: “To understand the OUT = IN equation in an engineering context, we need to think in terms of a safety margin or factor and what that actually means in practice” added Ron Smith, Ministry of Sustainable Resource Management, when he elaborated on the science-based understanding behind the Water Balance Equation (April 2005)


A core message is that the OUT = IN equation is variable on both sides. Something to think about is that in mathematics one cannot solve for two variables with a single equation. “In a nutshell, when the service population is small and the safety factor is large, climate variability may be inconsequential. As population and water demand grow, however, the safety factor shrinks. Eventually we reach a condition of vulnerability where a small shift in the water balance can trigger a supply crisis. This has been the prevailing pattern for almost 20 years. We have effectively used up the safety factor because we have not understood climate variability,” stated Ron Smith.

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ACHIEVING WATER BALANCE: “People have no difficulty reconciling personal long-term and short-term decisions, yet are challenged when it comes to reconciling short-term political versus long-term community planning decisions,” stated Robert Hicks, Metro Vancouver Senior Engineer, at the Penticton Workshop that launched the Convening for Action in British Columbia initiative (April 2005)


“The solutions to short-term risks are long-term: it is a continuum. In my presentation I explained why commitment to the long-term is so important. And I elaborated on the differences in approaches between short-term and long-term visions, and why we need to understand these differences. A key message revolved around the importance of lingo in communicating with decision-makers, and how messages can easily be lost in translation when language is not used effectively,” stated Robert Hicks.

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ACHIEVING WATER BALANCE: “Building Resiliency in British Columbia / Thinking Outside the Pipe to Achieve a Balance between Supply and Demand” – overview of morning program for “Water OUT = Water IN” workshop that launched the Convening for Action in British Columbia initiative (April 2005)


To conclude the morning program, a 4-person panel shared demand management success stories. A survey of 200 regional districts, municipalities and water districts around British Columbia had provided the starting point for identifying success stories and lessons learned. In his presentation, Bob Hrasko provided a broad-brush picture of the Okanagan water supply situation and highlighted the opportunities for demand-management to achieve a water balance. “With an average of 0.50m of precipitation annually and less than 0.10m of runoff annually, the Okanagan has the driest climate in Canada,” he noted.

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ACHIEVING WATER BALANCE: “Water is the unifying element for growth management in the Okanagan,” stated Ted van der Gulik, Ministry of Agriculture, when he showcased new and emerging tools at the “Water OUT = Water IN” workshop that launched the Convening for Action in British Columbia initiative (April 2005)


“Agriculture is an integral part of the Okanagan fabric. It creates the ‘look-and-feel’ that is part of the Okanagan tourist experience, is an essential component of the Okanagan economic engine, and contributes to the provincial food supply. Saving water should be driven by incentives for the agricultural community. In the Okanagan, over 85% of the total water supply is used for outdoor purposes in the urban and agricultural sectors. Because agricultural irrigation accounts for more than 70% of total water use, it is the key to an Okanagan Water Balance Strategy,” stated Ted van der Gulik.

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ACHIEVING WATER BALANCE: “Creating Our Future in British Columbia / Applying What You Have Learned to the Highlands Case Study” – overview of afternoon program for “Water OUT = Water IN” workshop that launched the Convening for Action in British Columbia initiative (April 2005)


“Our original concept was to create a hypothetical case study for the purposes of the Breakout Session. Then we realized that a real-life example would be more beneficial because it would considerably help participants to wrap their minds around the issues and potential solutions. The information could be exactly the same, but there is something visual about talking about a real community. Timing is everything, and the Highlands Case Study came to our attention at the right moment. As it turned out, the scale of the Highlands Case Study provided a perfect fit with the backgrounds of our audience,” stated Wenda Mason.

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ACHIEVING WATER BALANCE: “The District of Highlands is at a critical stage in its development and must clearly identify its future plan regarding density limits and land use planning goals,” stated Eric Bonham, Chair of the Highlands Stewardship Foundation, when he delivered a context presentation for a breakout session at the “Water OUT = Water IN” workshop that launched the Convening for Action in British Columbia initiative (April 2005)


“The District of Highlands, located on the edge of the Western Communities in the Capital Regional District (CRD), is subject to continuing development pressures northward from Langford. However, the community has its own vision, united as it is by landscape – rocky uplands and dense coastal forests. This shared terrain has shaped a building and road pattern with a small ‘footprint” on the land, along with a unique rural lifestyle. These values are clearly identified in the Official Community Plan,” explained Eric Bonham.

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ACHIEVING WATER BALANCE: “The key concerns between the water and energy industries are the same; and the issues are similar. One difference is that the energy industry tackled demand management much sooner than the water industry,” stated Dr. Bob Wilkinson, University of California, when he introduced the Water / Energy Nexus concept at the workshop that launched the Convening for Action in British Columbia initiative (April 2005)


“We get energy from water, and we use energy to supply, treat and use water. Water use involves significant energy inputs which must be considered,” stated Dr. Bob Wilkinson. In 2002, the BC Water Sustainability Committee foreshadowed rainwater harvesting in British Columbia. Within three years later, “rainwater harvesting” had become part of the language. Similarly, in 2005 the Water Sustainability Action Plan introduced the “water/energy nexus” at the “Water OUT = Water IN” workshop in anticipation that it too would be part of the language of practitioners within a couple of years.

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