Water Balance Model now a National Initiative

Water balance model log

The early success of the Water Balance Model in British Columbia, particularly in promoting an understanding of how to improve the built environment and protect the natural environment by achieving a light ‘hydrologic footprint’, generated interest in expanding the focus of the tool to reach a national audience. The province of Alberta, being British Columbia”s eastern neighbour, was approached by the British Columbia Inter-Governmental Partnership in August 2004 to form the first inter-provincial partnership.


2004 Okotoks Conference – A Defining Event

According to Yin Deong, Watershed Management Team Leader for the City of Calgary: “The Low Impact Development Conference held in Okotoks in September 2004 became the catalyst that brought together a cross-section of parties interested in promoting sustainable drainage initiatives in Alberta.”

Ted van der gulikThe Okotoks Conference led to the formation of the Alberta LID Partnership and the start of an inter-provincial dialogue with British Columbia. “The purpose in forming an inter-provincial partnership is to collaborate and share resources in order to facilitate improvements in land development practices in both provinces,” according to Ted van der Gulik, the British Columbia Partnership Chair.

“Differences in drainage culture, starting points and terminology will be addressed Bert van duin at iwa conference, sept 2005in adapting the WBM to suit Alberta conditions – that is, a cold and semi-arid climate. The experience gained during the partnership-building with Alberta will be useful, not only in the ongoing efforts to implement the WBM nationwide, but also to advance sustainable drainage initiatives across Canada,” according to Bert van Duin, a representative of the Bow River Basin Council.

Developed by a BC-based Inter-Governmental Partnership as an extension of Stormwater Planning: A Guidebook for British Columbia, the Water Balance Model for Canada (WBM) enables users to compare scenarios for rainwater runoff volume reduction. The Partnership comprises a consortium of local, regional, provincial and federal agencies. The WBM is fast emerging as the tool of choice in making sustainable land development decisions because it demonstrates how to achieve a light ‘hydrologic footprint’.


Context for Inter-Provincial Partnerships

Cate soroczan, cmhcAccording to Cate Soroczan, Policy and Research Division of CMHC: “This early success led to the decision by Environment Canada, Canada Mortgage & Housing Corporation (CMHC) and the Province of British Columbia to join forces to create a truly national Water Balance Model for Canada that achieves three outcomes:

  • Enable local government jurisdictions and stewardship groups in other provinces to share in the knowledge gained in British Columbia;
  • Generate a nationwide discussion forum on sustainable drainage initiatives; and
  •  Access additional sources of funding to accelerate the development of the WBM.” 

To date, the structure and content placeholders for provincial rainwater management communities-of-interest have been created for five provinces: British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario and Nova Scotia. “We are actively pursuing inter-provincial partnerships to take ownership of and populate this first group of pages with local success stories”, according to Laura Maclean of Environment Canada (British Columbia Partnership Co-Chair), adding that “communities-of-interest for the remaining provinces and territories will be developed as and when there are expressions of local interest and/or supporting funding,”


First posted on www.waterbalance.ca in March 2005