DEMONSTRATION APPLICATIONS: A 6-year program of applied research between 2016 and 2022 to test, refine and mainstream the methodology and metrics for EAP, the Ecological Accounting Process, a “made in BC” strategy for community investment in stream systems and other natural commons


EAP, the Ecological Accounting Process, is a pragmatic ‘made in BC’ approach to valuation of the ecological services supplied by a stream (one of our most common ecological systems). Think of it as a decision support tool for use by the community and local government.

EAP addresses this question: How do communities decide how much to invest in the natural commons? The EAP methodology and metrics enable a local government to  determine the WORTH of the natural commons, with ‘worth’ being the foundation for an annual budget for maintenance and maintenance of ecological assets.

EAP provides local governments with the philosophy, methodology and metrics they need to make the financial case for stream systems. Maintenance and management (M&M) of stream systems can now be integrated into a Local Government Finance Strategy for sustainable infrastructure funding.

Financial Case for Stream Systems: Building Blocks and Big Ideas for Sustainable Service Delivery

“Master drainage planning, integrated stormwater planning, and other processes at best pay lip-service to the role of the streamside protection zone within a stream system context, the condition of native vegetation and woodlands cover, and the need for restoration,” stated Tim Pringle, EAP Chair, and a founding director of the Partnership for Water Sustainability in British Columbia.

“Now, EAP provides the reason to ask the question, why aren’t these factors considered and given equal weight to engineering considerations?”

“What gets measured gets managed (or could be). The challenge for local governments is how to determine financial values for ecological services and the natural systems that deliver them. The community expectation that these assets will be maintained and managed is the impetus for changes in accounting systems used by local governments.”

Applied Research: Test, Refine and Mainstream

“The reality-check as framed by Tim Pringle is the context for the Partnership for Water Sustainability embarking upon the 6-year program of applied research to evolve EAP through a 3-stage process of testing, refining, and mainstreaming the methodology and metrics,” continued Kim Stephens, Partnership Executive Director.

“EAP recognizes that land use alters natural assets, basic questions emerge:

  • What changes occur where land use (settlement activities) intrude into landscapes where natural assets such as streams once functioned?
  • If communities want to balance use and conservation of land, what are the basic metrics to use for maintenance and management?
  • What are the capital values as well as the social and ecological values?”

“Thirteen local governments in five sub-regions of the Georgia Basin / Salish Sea Bioregion participated in the EAP program. The sequencing of the 9 case studies proved consequential and sometimes game changing. While the methodology and metrics are universal, each situation is unique. Understanding what each partner needed as an outcome from the project became a critical consideration in the building blocks process.”

Nineteen big ideas power EAP

“EAP evolved as one big idea led to the next one. We could not have made the leap directly from the first to the last. It required a building blocks process. This is the beneficial outcome of a systematic approach to applied research that tests and refines the methodology and metrics to get them right,” emphasized Tim Pringle.

“The 19 big ideas are transformative in their implications for why and how local governments would implement Asset Management for Sustainable Drainage Service Delivery,” added Kim Stephens.

“The EAP goal for the drainage service would be a plan that integrates the Water Balance and Ecological Accounting pillars. Asset Management for Sustainable Service Delivery: A BC Framework provides the financial incentive to go down this path.”

To Learn More:

Download and read a copy of the entire  Synthesis Report on EAP, the Ecological Accounting Process, A B.C. Strategy for Community Investment in Stream Systems (2022), the 4th in the Beyond the Guidebook series of guidance documents.

The Synthesis Report is a distillation of over 1000 pages of case study documentation into a storyline that is conversational and written for a continuum of audiences that includes land use practitioners, asset managers, stream stewards, and local government decision-makers.

Or, cut to the chase and read the 7-page extract titled Case Study Building Blocks Process.