ASSET MANAGEMENT FOR SUSTAINABLE DRAINAGE SERVICE DELIVERY: “An elephant in the room is the hollowing out of government capacity at all levels and the reliance on outside service providers,” stated Kim Stephens in an article published in the Summer 2022 issue of the Asset Management BC Newsletter

NOTE TO READER:

If we know how to do a much better job of protecting ecological features and stream systems in our communities and on our landscape, then why aren’t we doing a better job? Why are streams still degrading? Why do we still see practices that exacerbate the situation? Why is understanding lacking? How do we change that? In the Summer 2022 issue of the Asset Management BC Newsletter, Kim Stephens and Tim Pringle of the Partnership for Water Sustainability in BC address these questions in their article about EAP, the Ecological Accounting Process

In June 2022, the Partnership released its Synthesis Report on the Ecological Accounting Process, a BC Strategy for Community Investment in Stream Systems, the 4th in the Beyond the Guidebook Series.

How much should local governments spend each year to reduce the Riparian Deficit?

“In the 1990s, seminal research at the University of Washington on the science of land use changes produced a road map for protection of stream system integrity,” states Kim Stephens, Partnership Executive Director.

“For the past generation of practice, then, communities and practitioners should have known what they ought to be doing. And some have made progress. But, in the big picture, the last two decades have been characterized by an inability to act on the science. The consequence is a growing Riparian Deficit which is an unfunded liability.”

“Land use realities (master drainage planning, integrated stormwater planning, development pressures, etc.) push local government to pay lip-service to the role of the streamside protection zone. There is scant understanding of a stream system context, the value of water balance pathways, the condition of native vegetation and woodlands cover, and the need for restoration.”

Recognize there is an elephant in the room

“An elephant in the room is the hollowing out of government capacity at all levels and the reliance on outside service providers. The question is, how does one create a situation where the environmental perspective is on an equal footing with the engineering and accounting perspectives?”

“Only then can there be a balanced and productive conversation about annual budgets for maintenance and management (M&M) of assets, whether those are constructed assets or the natural component of the Drainage Service.”

“The growing cost due to neglect of the Drainage Service, combined with the urgency of the drainage liability issue, is the driver for linking municipal infrastructure asset management and stream health as cause-and-effect.”

Now what can we do?

“EAP is a foundation piece for Asset Management for Sustainable Drainage Service Delivery. EAP is outcome oriented – restore and protect stream system integrity,” adds Tim Pringle, EAP Chair.

“EAP is remarkable in its simplicity and is pragmatic. Start with an understanding of the parcel because that is how communities regulate and plan land use. It is the parcel level where you get the information that you need to change practice to protect natural assets. That is what everyone must get their heads around.”

TO LEARN MORE:

To read the complete article, download a copy of How much should local governments spend each year to reduce the Riparian Deficit?

After that, download and read the Synthesis Report on the Ecological Accounting Process, a BC Strategy for Community Investment in Stream Systems, the 4th in the Beyond the Guidebook Series published by the Partnership for Water Sustainability in BC.

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