Resources and Successes for Protecting Stream Health in British Columbia
“Beyond the Guidebook” refers to a runoff-based approach to drainage modeling that connects the dots between source control evaluation and stream health assessment. In a nutshell, it means this is ‘where science meets analysis’ because runoff volume management is directly linked to stream erosion and water quality.
Building on the interest in rainwater / stormwater modelling that led to a province-wide series of technical seminars being organized through the continuing education program of the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of British Columbia (APEGBC), the Green Infrastructure Partnership is teaming with APEGBC to deliver a one-day seminar on how to implement ‘green solutions’ that actually protect stream health.
Scheduled for November 15, the seminar is the next step in the rollout of Beyond the Guidebook: Context for Rainwater Management and Green Infrastructure in British Columbia. This guidance document was released in June 2007.
For an overview of the seminar agenda, please click on this link to the Draft Program for Rainwater Management & Green Infrastructure: Resources and Successes for Protecting Stream Health.
APEGBC is the event coordinator. To register for the seminar, please click here to access the APEGBC website.
Beyond the Guidebook
In 2002, when Stormwater Planning: A Guidebook for British Columbia was published, its underlying premise that land development and watershed protection can be compatible represented a radical shift in thinking. The Guidebook recognized that water volume is something over which local government has control through its infrastructure policies, practices and standards.
Beyond the Guidebook is an inter-governmental initiative that builds on this foundation by advancing a runoff-based approach and tool – the ‘Water Balance Model powered by QUALHYMO’ – to help local governments achieve desired urban stream health and environmental protection outcomes at a watershed scale. For more information on how the existing Water Balance Model is being integrated with an enhanced version of QUALHYMO, please click here.
“Aligning our efforts with APEGBC to deliver the seminar is timely”, notes Paul Ham, Chair of the Green Infrastructure Partnership (and General Manager, Engineering, City of Surrey). “The seminar will be a month after the last event in the 2007 Showcasing Green Infrastructure Innovation Series. The goal of the series is to share green infrastructure approaches, tools, experiences and lessons learned as an outcome of designing with nature. As a logical next step, the seminar creates a learning opportunity to help practitioners move from awareness to action.”
The seminar is being held under the umbrella of the Water Sustainability Action Plan for British Columbia and is structured in three parts to deal with the Why, What and How in going Beyond the Guidebook:
- Part A is titled Green Infrastructure Innovation: On-the-Ground Successes
- Part B is titled Beyond the Guidebook: Applying What We Have Learned to Protect Stream Health
- Part C is titled A Pilot for Beyond the Guidebook: City of Surrey’s Fergus Creek Watershed Plan
“Parts A and B in the morning session will provide a common understanding regarding the technical, regulatory and legal aspects of going Beyond the Guidebook”, explains Kim Stephens (Program Coordinator, Water Sustainability Action Plan for British Columbia). He will be the Moderator for the seminar.
“Learning from the precedents that the City of Surrey is establishing with the Fergus Creek watershed plan, Part C in the afternoon will engage participants in an interactive application titled How to Implement More Effective Green Infrastructure in your Municipality”, adds Stephens.
Part A – Green Infrastructure Innovation: On-the-Ground Successes
The objective for Part A is that participants will be able to express why showcasing on-the-ground successes will help change the way we develop land and manage rainwater runoff.
To set the scene, Paul Ham will describe the Showcasing Innovation programs in Greater Vancouver and on Vancouver Island. These are being held on Fridays commencing on September 14 and ending on October 19. The genesis for the program was the 2005 consultation workshop hosted by the City of Surrey under the umbrella of the Metro Vancouver Regional Engineers Advisory Committee (REAC).
A roundtable segment, led by Ray Fung (Manager of Utilities, District of West Vancouver), will then provide participants with a forum for describing what being a champion means to them, and to share their examples of green infrastructure innovation. “The reason for starting with an interactive segment is that practitioners will become engaged in a process if they are first given an opportunity to tell their stories versus being talked at”, comments Ray Fung.
David Desrochers (City of Vancouver) and Richard Boase (District of North Vancouver) will both tell their stories to assist Ray Fung in providing a frame-of-reference that will encourage others to tell their stories.
With the first of Jim Dumont’s presentations, the seminar will move from storytelling into the technical content. “To prepare participants for Part C, Jim Dumont will lead participants through the rationale for integrating the Water Balance Model with QUALHYMO as a way to correlate green infrastructure practices with stream health protection”, reports Kim Stephens, “Jim Dumont has developed a science-based methodology that correlates runoff volume with stream health as measured by erosion and sedimentation.
Part B – Beyond the Guidebook: Applying What We Have Learned to Protect Stream Health
The objective for Part B is that participants will be able express why there is a shift in thinking from single-function stormwater management to integrated and comprehensive rainwater management.
The set of three presentations that comprise Part B are linked, and will elaborate on various aspects of the Beyond the Guidebook guidance document that the Green Infrastructure Partnership and Inter-Governmental Water Balance Model Partnership released in June 2007.
The presentations will be forward looking, with a unifying theme being “creating our future” through application of available policies, programs and tools.
Chris Jensen of the Ministry of Community Services and Corino Salomi of Fisheries & Oceans Canada will provide provincial and federal perspectives, respectively. Jensen is the Co-Chair of the Vancouver Island Water Balance Model Coordinating Team (VICT). This team is a pilot for inter-agency collaboration to ensure consistent messaging and promote use of the Water Balance Model as a decision support tool.
Further to the direction provided by the Premier in the 2006 Throne Speech, the Province is using its grant programs to provide incentives so that there will be a paradigm-shift to green behaviour. “Provincial grant programs no longer support the traditional ‘pipes and pavement’ approach to drainage planning. The Ministry of Community Services focus is on programs that reduce rainwater runoff volume at the site level, by capturing rain where it falls”, reports Chris Jensen.
Corino Salomi represents Fisheries & Oceans Canada on the Green Infrastructure Partnership Steering Committee. For the complete story, please click here.
Green Infrastructure Guide:
Susan Rutherford, the West Coast Environmental Law WCEL) representative on the Green Infrastructure Partnership, is the author of the Green Infrastructure Guide, published by WCEL in May 2007. Susan will explain how the Guide is designed to complement Stormwater Planning: A Guidebook for British Columbia, plus serve as a useful backdrop for conversations to take place both within and beyond the local government’s planning department and legal advisors.
“Participants will be introduced to the legal and policy strategies that support green infrastructure innovation and enable comprehensive rainwater management”, advises Susan.
The Green Infrastructure Guide traces some of BC’s local government experience in implementing engineered green infrastructure designs.
According to Susan, Rutherford, “The intent of the Guide is to support the efforts of local government officials and decision-makers to green their community’s infrastructure, by sharing the tools and the collective wisdom that have been gained as a result of implementation experiences from around the province.”
Part C – A Pilot for Beyond the Guidebook: City of Surrey’s Fergus Creek Watershed Plan
The objective for Part C is that participants will be able express how green infrastructure policies and practices can be successfully implemented at the site scale to protect stream health at the watershed scale.
The centrepiece for the seminar is the Fergus Plan, the pilot for going Beyond the Guidebook. Paul Ham, Remi Dubé and Jim Dumont will elaborate on the two precedent-setting dimensions to the pilot:
- There will be no large-scale storage ponds. Rather, rainwater runoff volume will be managed through constructed facilities and the creation of contiguous large-scale greenways that have been integrated into the area’s land use plan.
- Because the science-based analytical methodology introduced by Jim Dumont in Part A has been validated through the Fergus Creek process, other local governments can now explore the fundamental requirements both explicit and implicit in the DFO Guidelines for stream health and environmental protection.
The Fergus Creek watershed is a case study for both green field and retrofit scenarios. According to Remi Dubé, “Fergus is the first of the new generation of ISMPs that the City is undertaking. Our goal has been to develop an array of tools under the umbrella of the Fergus ISMP. Because we wished to avoid a cookie-cutter approach that is too often an outcome of this type of multi-year program, we challenged the consulting engineering community to demonstrate their innovation in providing us with a work plan that would actually facilitate changes in how land is developed and/or re-developed in Surrey. Jim Dumont of McElhanney rose to the challenge. He provided the City with a vision of what could be accomplished on the ground through a pragmatic approach that is under-pinned by a design with nature philosophy. The City bought into that vision.”
For more information on the Fergus Creek pilot, please click on Showcasing Innovation in Surrey which was the second event in the 2006 Showcasing Green Infrastructure Innovation Series.
“We don’t want to talk at our audience all day”, states Kim Stephens, “So we are placing emphasis on the breakout session. We will be creating a setting where participants can apply what they have heard; and in so doing, reinforce the learning experience.”
“Participants will work in groups to resolve ‘how to do it’ implementation issues related to on-site rainwater management and multi-purpose greenways. We will be designing an exercise so that they can delve into standards, objectives, physical limitations, etc”, adds Paul Ham.
“The objective will be to expose participants to the ‘how to’ challenges/opportunities in implementing ‘green’ rather than ‘blue’ solutions”, echoes Remi Dubé.
The seminar will conclude with a plenary session. This will provide a feedback loop on the effectiveness of the seminar in engaging participants. “We will be asking everyone to highlight the one thing they learned in the seminar that will change the way they do their day job”, explains Meggin Messenger, Ministry of Community Services representative on the Green Infrasdtructure Partership Steering Committee. Meggin will be the facilitator for the plenary session.
APEGBC is the event coordinator. To register for the seminar, please click here to access the APEGBC website.
What is Green Infrastructure?
There is a plethora of ‘green’ vocabulary that we now hear on a daily basis. To develop a common understanding plus help advance a new way-of-thinking about land development, the Green Infrastructure Partnership is promoting use of the following hierarchy of ‘green’ vocabulary:
- Green Value means land use strategies will accommodate settlement needs in practical ways while protecting the ecological resources upon which communities depend. At the heart of a Green Valueapproach is the valuation methodology that provides the business case for reconciliation of short-term versus long-term thinking related to risk and profit.
- Design with Nature is one approach to achieve Green Value, and is supportive of community goals that relate to building social capacity.
- Green Infrastructure is the on-the-ground application of Design with Nature standards and practices.
- Water Sustainability is achieved through Green Infrastructure practices that reflect a full and proper understanding of the relationship between land and water.
This cascading vocabulary was unveiled at the Creating Our Future Workshop that was held in conjunction with the Gaining Ground Summit in Victoria in June 2007. The Creating Our Future Workshop was a consultation opportunity for Vancouver Island local governments that are interested in implementing infrastructure practices and regulation that result in green value.
Green Infrastructure Explained
Green infrastructure is associated with the management of water that runs off the land and how water runoff impacts on the sustainability of both terrestrial and aquatic habitat and resources.
Green infrastructure is also associated with how water is used and how water use impacts on the sustainability of water supply.
“Desired outcomes for water sustainability and green infrastructure can be achieved through infrastructure standards that reflect a full and proper understanding of the relationship between land and water”, explains Kim Stephens.
Rainwater Management Explained
The drainage vocabulary in British Columbia is in transition, and is being simplified so that there will be a clearer public understanding of source control options for capturing rain where it falls. Furthermore, drainage practitioners are advancing the design of green infrastructure so that cumulative benefits rather than cumulative impacts can accrue over time. For the complete story on how the vocabulary is changing, please click here.
Change the Language, Change the Outcome:
Changing the vocabulary of drainage practitioners is part and parcel of implementing ‘integrated solutions’ that are landscape-based, and are guided by this over-arching principle:
- Where and how land is developed determines how water is used, and how water runs off the land.
According to Kim Stephens, “The single function view of traditional stormwater management is giving way to the integrated and comprehensive perspective that is captured by the term rainwater management. Stormwater suggests there is a problem, whereas rainwater is a resource. Continued use of the term ‘stormwater managemen’ can be viewed as perpetuating a 1970s and 1980s way-of-thinking where the focus is narrow and is concerned with a handful of storm events. Contemporary rainwater management, on the other hand, accounts for all the rainfall-days that occur each year. Furthermore, use of the term rainwater management resonates with the average citizen in a way that stormwater management never can.”
Rainwater management encompasses both water use and rainwater runoff because the common link is soil depth. Desired rainwater management outcomes include using less irrigation water and reducing rainwater runoff. The evolution from a traditional to an integrated approach is illustrated by the following synopsis:
Water Sustainability Action Plan for British Columbia
The Water Sustainability Action Plan for British Columbia is sponsored by the Province of British Columbia, and the Action Plan elements are being delivered through partnerships, one of which is the Green Infrastructure Partnership. The Action Plan provides a partnership umbrella for an array of on-the-ground initiatives that promote a ‘water-centric’ approach to community planning and development. .
The mission of the Green Infrastructure Partnership is to provide leadership and encourage others to implement ‘design with nature’ design practices and regulation province-wide. Implementation by local governments will be voluntary, but once the decision is made to embrace green infrastructure, implementation will need clearly defined standards.
Posted September 2007