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Convening for Action in British Columbia

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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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CMHC RESEARCH HIGHLIGHT: “A Plan for Rainy Days – Water Runoff and Site Planning”


“In 2004, the City of Stratford in Ontario approved a secondary plan for a future city expansion based on an evaluation of three plans, one of which was the Fused Grid. In 2006, CMHC initiated a supplementary case study to assess the potential for reducing or eliminating rainwater runoff from the development area,” reports Fanis Grammenos. “The question for this analysis was to assess to what extent street layout, amount and distribution of open space, and building form affect the post-development runoff resulting from the impermeable surfaces that urban development creates.”

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ARTICLE: “Elephant in the Room – Drainage and the Unfunded Infrastructure Liability” (Asset Management BC Newsletter, Winter 2021)


“A central idea of the EAP methodology is that a stream system has a ‘package of ecological services’.  This concept refers to the combined range of uses desired by the community. Three key words capture the essence of what the phrase ‘range of uses’ means, namely: drainage, recreation and habitat. This is plain language that elected Councils and Boards understand,” stated Tim Pringle. “The EAP methodology has evolved as we have learned from, and adapted, each successive case study application. Each situation is unique, but the approach is universally applicable.”

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FLASHBACK TO 1997: “Looking back, British Columbia’s Fish Protection Act was both a defining moment and a call to action. The consultation process led directly to the SmartStorm Forum Series. Guided by a vision for an ecosystem-based approach to land and water development, the series set in motion a chain of events. Their outcomes reverberated and have rippled through time,” stated Kim Stephens, Partnership for Water Sustainability (1st in a series / January 2021)


“I recall quite clearly that Erik Karlsen and Peter Law were sitting to our right as Bill Derry and I spoke impromptu to the ‘fish pictures’. It caught my attention how animated they were as they kept turning to each other during Bill and my presentation. When we finished, Erik was the first to speak. ‘At last,’ he said, ‘we have the science that explains the relationship between changes in land use and the consequences for stream health’. Little did I realize in the moment that my life was about to change. Nor did I realize how profoundly Erik Karlsen would influence my career direction,” recalled Kim Stephens.

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FLASHBACK TO 2010: “Increased development and increased storm intensity from climate change are increasing peak flows and altering the rules of the game,” stated Anna Warwick Sears, Executive Director of the Okanagan Basin Water Board, when she described why the FROM RAIN TO RESOURCE WORKSHOP was a call to action (Kelowna, November 2010)


“We spent the last half a century trying to control runoff with dikes, storm sewers, curbs and gutters. We can’t engineer away our problems fast enough, and have to look at other, lower impact solutions. The Okanagan is particularly vulnerable to the impacts of unmanaged stormwater and rainwater because all surface water flows into the lake system that runs along the bottom of the valley. This workshop highlighted the importance of rainwater management to climate change adaptation and showcased examples from other areas that could be applied to the Okanagan,” stated Anna Warwick Sears.

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FLASHBACK TO 2008 / SUMMARY REPORT ON COMOX VALLEY LEARNING LUNCH SEMINAR SERIES: “Create liveable communities AND protect stream health is the vision. To make it happen, a premise underpinning the series is that consistency in understanding of approaches and desired outcomes is best achieved by taking a professional development program into the places where local government practitioners work,” stated Kim Stephens, Water Sustainability Action Plan


“An action in Living Water Smart is that all land and water managers will know what makes a stream healthy, and therefore be able to help land and water users factor in new approaches to securing the full range of stream benefits. To that end, the Comox Valley series was conducted as a cumulative process, from philosophy to tools, in order to advance a regional team approach to rainwater management and green infrastructure. The desired outcome is that local government and private sector practitioners will make green choices that create liveable communities and protect stream health,” stated Kim Stephens.

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BUILD A VISION, CREATE A LEGACY: “In the final analysis, the objective may not be to restore all urban watersheds. Rather, achievable and affordable performance targets for improving individual watershed health will be set as part of a stakeholder visioning process,” wrote Erik Karlsen in a co-authored article (FreshOutlook Magazine, February 2002)


“Fundamental change in the scope of rainwater/stormwater planning, development standards, construction and operations will only happen if there is a broad understanding as to why the changes are needed, what they are, and how they can be practically implemented,” wrote Erik Karlsen. “Publicly-supported decision-makers will determine the timing and phasing of change. The ability of consumers and the development community to adapt will then set the pace of change. Success in one area will be transferred to others. The full benefits of these changes will be realized decades from now.”

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RECONNECT PEOPLE, LAND AND WATER IN ALTERED LANDSCAPES: “Together we keep raising our game. And so do our collaborators. Shared successes leads to more successes. There is a track record to continue building upon.” – A Short History of The Partnership for Water Sustainability in British Columbia (November 2020)


Lynn Kriwoken played an instrumental role in the creation and launching of the Water Sustainability Action Plan in February 2004. A true visionary, she immediately saw the value of the an advisory group to government at a time when BC was in transition after the 2001 election. Her advocacy within government got the ball rolling and resulted in a self-fulfilling prophecy. Without Lynn Kriwoken, there would not have been an Action Plan. It really is that simple.

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A SHORT HISTORY OF THE PARTNERSHIP FOR WATER SUSTAINABILITY IN BRITISH COLUMBIA: “Celebration of Our Story: Genesis / First Decade / What Next” (released November 2020)


Erik Karlsen (1945-2020) was the Partnership’s ‘eminence grise’. When he retired from government, he turned his mind to the work of The Partnership. Influential in government, and the architect of BC’s Georgia Basin Initiative, Erik crafted the think pieces that guided the process for development of the Water Sustainability Action Plan. Erik helped everyone push the boundaries of their comfort zones. The result was a philosophical foundation and framework that has guided The Partnership to this day.

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BRITISH COLUMBIA’S PARTNERSHIP FOR WATER SUSTAINABILITY CELEBRATES 10-YEAR MILESTONE: “The Partnership’s guiding philosophy is to help others be successful. When they are successful, we are successful,” wrote Kim Stephens, Executive Director (November 2020)


“The Partnership is the hub for a convening for action network. We keep raising our game. And so do our collaborators. Shared successes leads to more successes. We judge progress by the distance travelled, not the distance remaining. We are optimistic about the future,” stated Kim Stephens. “In our Partnership programs, we focus attention on the 4Cs – communication, cooperation, coordination, collaboration. The 4Cs guide what we do. We live and breathe collaboration. This plays out in everything that the Partnership does. Building trust and respect starts with a conversation,” stated Kim Stephens,

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