FLASHBACK TO 2016: “Asset Management BC and the Partnership for Water Sustainability are collaborating to connect the dots between asset management and water sustainability. Everyone should know that the time to shape future life-cycle costs is at the community planning front-end. Our message is explicit: get it right at the front-end; avoid a liability,” stated Wally Wells (in an article published in Asset Management BC Newsletter, June 2016)

Note to Reader:

The Summer 2016 issue of the Asset Management BC Newsletter included an Op-Ed co-authored by Kim Stephens and Wally Wells of the Partnership for Water Sustainability in British Columbia and Asset Management BC, respectively. Their organizations have aligned efforts and are collaborating to advance the vision for Sustainable Service Delivery in British Columbia. The Partnership and Asset Management BC are each implementing programs that flow from action items in Living Water Smart, British Columbia’s Water Plan.

Asset Management BC deals with all aspects of municipal infrastructure. The Partnership complements the work of Asset Management BC by bringing an environmental dimension to the collaboration, because a Partnership focus is on the urban drainage function. How local governments manage drainage has long-term financial implications and consequences for stream health protection and restoration. In their co-authored article, Kim Stephens and Wally Wells introduced a new paradigm to the Asset Management BC audience, and that is: Watersheds are Infrastructure Assets.

new paradigm

In the beginning……

“Collaboration between Asset Management BC and the Partnership for Water Sustainability in British Columbia had its genesis in a workshop hosted by the Regional District of Nanaimo in September 2010,” wrote the authors.

“In the years since, we have aligned efforts to advance our shared vision for sustainable service delivery. The journey is ongoing. Our shared mission is to champion standards of practice that will create a water-resilient future,” notes Kim Stephens. “The branding for this desired outcome is:

Sustainable Watershed Systems,
through Asset Management

“Today, it is no accident that asset management and water sustainability are both top priorities for local governments not only on Vancouver Island but across the Province and gaining traction in the rest of the country,” adds Wally Wells.

“All those involved in land development have a role to play in achieving Sustainable Service Delivery. The players include land use and infrastructure professionals. Sustainable Service Delivery is the singular aim. Asset Management is the means to achieve the aim. Suffice to say, BC is at the dawn of a new era.”

“Restoring watershed function will require a long-term commitment by the community, Municipal Councils and Regional Boards, and generations of land and water professionals. The ongoing challenge is ‘integration’ and getting every discipline to recognize each others’ contribution plus get the organization working together on a common path. The other challenge is communicating and understanding the message.”

To Learn More:

Download OP-ED: On Sharing a Vision for “Sustainable Watershed Systems, through Asset Management” to read the complete article co-authored by Kim Stephens and Wally Wells.

Get It Right at the Front-End

“Choice of words can make or break one’s ability to open minds to a new or different way of thinking. Commencing with the 2011 Comox Valley seminars, we changed HOW we communicate with our local government audiences. Emphasis on the 80-20 life-cycle rule for infrastructure costs proved very effective in capturing and focussing attention. It was a ‘watershed moment’ in our history,” continues Kim Stephens.

“As early as 2011, it was becoming clear that protection of a community’s natural resources would emerge as a foundation piece for Sustainable Service Delivery. To promote a holistic approach to infrastructure asset management, the Partnership framed three objectives for Sustainable Service Delivery: 1) pay down the legacy cost of engineered infrastructure; 2) reduce the life-cycle cost of new infrastructure; and 3) mimic the natural Water Balance to forestall life-cycle liabilities.”




Pathway to a Water-Resilient Future

“Asset Management for Sustainable Service Delivery: A Framework for BC is the lynch-pin for a water-resilient future. The BC Framework makes the link between local government services, the infrastructure that supports the delivery of those services, and watershed health,” states Wally Wells.

“The water-resilient future shown as Step Three on the Asset Management Continuum (above) would be, by definition, a ‘Sustainable Watershed System’. This phrase is the short-form descriptor for integration of natural systems thinking AND adaptation to a changing climate into Sustainable Service Delivery,” explains Kim Stephens.

“The Partnership for Water Sustainability is the champion for Step Three. The continuum illustrates the journey as understanding grows and local governments progress towards a water-resilient future. Making better decisions starts with an understanding of how to mimic the natural Water Balance through a blend of engineered assets and natural services.”

This graphic conceptualizes the nature of the educational challenge in 2002 versus that in 2016.

This graphic conceptualizes the nature of the educational challenge in 2002 versus that in 2016.

Apply Science-based Understanding

“In 2002, a breakthrough resulted from application of science-based understanding to develop the Water Balance Methodology. This was a notable milestone in the process of creating a provincial policy, program and regulatory framework that makes possible Sustainable Watershed Systems,” emphasizes Kim Stephens.

“As of 2016, BC is progressing. Yet, persistent challenges for practitioners to adopt, change or evolve standards of practice means there is still a substantive disconnect between UNDERSTANDING and IMPLEMENTATION.”

“Communities must capitalize on, not miss, opportunities. Think and act like a watershed. View each property through a watershed lens. Create cumulative benefits, not cumulative impacts! With this mind-set, communities can progress towards Sustainable Watershed Systems.”

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