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EAP, the Ecological Accounting Process

ASSET MANAGEMENT IS AN AWKWARD TERM: “We have managed assets for decades and understand what that is and what we are doing. Suddenly we took two very simple words, reversed them, and went from managing assets to asset management. The result? We confused everyone,” stated Wally Wells, Executive Director of Asset Management BC


“An issue we have in communicating our message often seems to relate to the use and interpretation or misinterpretation of words or phrases. Too often we use technical terms within our own skill sets, not appreciating that others may not know what we are really saying. Asset Management, itself, is an intimidating term. The process of asset management or ‘managing assets’, is not new. The process, as defined today, just leads to better decisions across the entire organization for priority setting with limited budgets. However, we have succeeded in confusing everyone,” stated Wally Wells.

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ARE STREAMS WORTH THE SAME AS CONSTRUCTED ASSETS? – “EAP, the Ecological Accounting Process, supports local governments that intend to include stream systems in asset management calculations and the M&M – that is, maintenance and management – of drainage services. Through EAP, local governments have a guiding philosophy, methodology and metrics to make a financial case for stream systems,” stated Ray Fung, retired Director of Engineering with the District of West Vancouver, in an article published by Construction Business magazine (March 2022)


“Beyond local government, the provincial umbrella for EAP is ‘Asset Management for Sustainable Service Delivery: A BC Framework’. The driver for EAP is degradation of stream channels and streamside riparian setback zones. Over the last six years, the EAP methodology and metrics have been tested, refined and mainstreamed. The methodology has allowed consideration of opportunities taken or missed and risks avoided or incurred. On an ongoing basis, it allows for the question, how well are we doing? In short, EAP provides local government with a path forward to address loss of riparian integrity along streams,” stated Ray Fung.

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LOCAL GOVERNMENTS NEED REAL NUMBERS TO DELIVER GREEN INFRASTRUCTURE OUTCOMES: “Decisions by elected Councils and Boards are made at the parcel scale. Getting it right about the financial valuation of ecological services starts at the parcel scale and recognizing that every parcel is interconnected within a system. EAP, the Ecological Accounting Process, is the only ecological methodology that deals with the parcel,” stated Tim Pringle, EAP Chair, when the Partnership for Water Sustainability released a downloadable resource about the story behind the story of EAP as part of its Living Water Smart Series (March 2022)


“Land supports assets that provide services, and the decisions about land are made at the parcel scale. Communities are tied to the past through historical subdivision of land. Restoring the health of natural systems within the built environment means we must understand the ‘biology of land use’. The human analogy is DNA. The strength of EAP is in how it looks at and values streams as systems and as a land use. A stream corridor is a land use because it satisfies two criteria: it is defined in Riparian Areas Protection Regulations Act, and it has a financial value,” stated Tim Pringle.

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ABOUT EAP, THE ECOLOGICAL ACCOUNTING PROCESS: “Local governments need real numbers to deliver green infrastructure outcomes. It is that simple. Tim Pringle’s unusual blend of education and career experience sets him apart from the usual suspects in the ‘ecological services crowd’. He is a sociologist who has a working knowledge of real estate finance. This experience propelled his breakthrough in developing the metrics for EAP,” observed Kim Stephens (March 2022)


“Tim Pringle has demonstrated why and how ‘the parcel’ holds the key to integrating line items for maintenance and management (M&M) of streams systems in asset management budgets. Local government elected representatives and staff understand the parcel perspective because this is what they work with every day. Tim Pringle emphasizes that decisions by elected Councils and Boards are made at the parcel scale. Getting it right about financial valuation of ecological services starts at the parcel scale. EAP is the only ecological methodology that deals with the parcel,” stated Kim Stephens.

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SUSTAINABLE CREEKSHED SYSTEMS AND THE ASSET MANAGEMENT CONTINUUM: “We needed a way to illustrate diagrammatically what the journey by a local government to the eventual Sustainable Service Delivery destination would look like. This led us to the concept of a continuum. The relevance of this way of thinking is that different local governments will always be at different points and different levels of maturity along the asset management continuum. This is why we focus on outcomes and do not prescribe what to do in BC,” stated Glen Brown, Asset Management BC Chair, when he unveiled the continuum at the 2015 Annual Workshop organized by the Partnership for Water Sustainability


“Sustainable Service Delivery builds on the principles of Asset Management. It integrates land use, infrastructure servicing, financial and ecological planning. Emphasis is on the Levels-of-Service that assets provide, and ‘what level is affordable’ over time. Nature is an asset and provides ‘services’. The benefits and value of ‘design with nature’ solutions grow over time. The BC Framework is a holistic and integrated approach to asset management. It identifies natural services and the use of natural resources – and how they are part of / integrated into the overall services provided at a local government level,” stated Glen Brown.

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ARTICLE: Stream Corridor Management – in a local government asset management strategy that considers the natural environment, are streams worth the same as constructed assets? (Construction Business Magazine, Jan-Feb 2022)


Beginning in 2006, Construction Business magazine has published an article every two years about the Water Sustainability Action Plan for British Columbia. “I contact industry experts regularly to share insights on important issues for our readers. Kim Stephens of the Partnership for Water Sustainability is one such expert that I turn to when seeking information on water related topics whether it’s strategies, policies, programs, or sustainability. His knowledge and contributions are much appreciated in our efforts to provide the most relevant information to the industry,” stated Cheryl Mah.

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GREEN INFRASTRUCTURE CONTINUUM IS A METAPHOR FOR HOPE: “The state-of-the-art in the United States is now close to where British Columbia was in 2005. In the meantime, we have continued to progress and evolve our systems approach, and this is why the story of EAP is an essential read,” stated Kim Stephens when the Partnership for Water Sustainability released a downloadable resource introducing the ‘green infrastructure continuum’ as an organizing idea (February 2022)


“We use the term ‘green infrastructure continuum’ to frame how green infrastructure understanding and the state-of-the-art around it are building on experience and evolving over time. The continuum idea provides context for milestones on the green infrastructure journey in British Columbia. The continuum idea is a metaphor for hope. It allows us to answer the question, how well are we doing? The green infrastructure continuum is the way we measure progress to achieve the Living Water Smart vision for creating liveable communities and protecting stream health,” stated Kim Stephens.

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ASSET MANAGEMENT CONTINUUM POINTS THE WAY TO EAP, THE ECOLOGICAL ACCOUNTING PROCESS: “It is all about the service. Basically, well-maintained infrastructure assets are worthless IF they do not provide a service. Also, for any asset management approach to be successful, it must not focus on the infrastructure asset by itself,” stated Guy Felio, infrastructure management and resilience specialist, in his keynote address at the 2017 Asset Management BC Annual Conference


“Lack of data and certainty has not stopped municipalities from providing services, managing their assets, and making effective and efficient use of their scarce resources. Extreme weather and future climate uncertainty is another variable to consider; but where to start? There are no reasons not to consider climate uncertainty in asset management. Ultimately, the focus is on the service and the community, and ensuring critical assets maintain functionality during the extreme event, and recover quickly any functionality lost!”

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REPORT ON: “Bowker Creek – A Natural Commons in the Capital Regional District: Using the Ecological Accounting Process to Establish the Financial Case for the Stream” – the sixth in the series of EAP demonstration application projects undertaken as part of a multi-year program of applied research by the Partnership for Water Sustainability (October 2021)


“Decision-making is the key. In the City of Victoria, we are creating new ways of making decisions about what we do with our assets, whether they be natural or hard. Embracing EAP would introduce a structured asset planning approach. It provides metrics for integrating natural assets into the municipal infrastructure inventory and place them on an equal footing with constructed/engineered assets. This provides a starting point for a balanced conversation about the services that the natural and constructed assets both provide. EAP will be used for Bowker Creek, and for future planning and decision-making,” stated Trina Buhler.

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EAP, THE ECOLOGICAL ACCOUNTING PROCESS, IS GAME-CHANGING: “EAP provides communities with a philosophy, pragmatic methodology and metrics to make the financial case for annual investment to prevent degradation and improve the condition of ecological assets that constitute a stream corridor system,” stated Kim Stephens, when the Partnership for Water Sustainability in BC released its report on the Financial Case for Bowker Creek in the Capital Regional District (October 2021)


“Use of EAP to establish the ‘financial case for the stream’ would put maintenance and management (M&M) of stream corridor systems on an equal footing with constructed assets (municipal infrastructure). Once local governments embrace a guiding philosophy that ecological services and use of land for development are equally important, then the next step is for them to include M&M budgets for stream systems in their Asset Management Plans. This would begin the process of reconnecting hydrology and stream ecology by design.” stated Kim Stephens.

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