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Ecological Accounting Process

    BEYOND THE GUIDEBOOK 2022 / FINANCIAL CASE FOR STREAMS: “Green infrastructure state-of-the-art in the United States is now close to where the BC state-of-the-art was in 2005” – based on an interview with Dr. Zbigniew Grabowski, lead researcher for the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies, this is the key takeaway from the first systematic review of the use and definition of the green infrastructure concept in local government plans in the United States


    “There are a lot of ‘greening’ and sustainability initiatives, but they are not conceptually unified. They are neither thought about in terms of interdependencies nor systemically. We had this moment of realization about the diversity of plans when it clicked in our minds about analyzing all the plans in terms of three big buckets: something that is very stormwater-focused, something that is very land-focused, and something that is trying to integrate the two. In the process, we started to uncover this grain of systems thinking within green infrastructure planning,” stated Dr. Zbigniew Grabowski.

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    ARTICLE: “EAP, the Ecological Accounting Process, considers the entirety of the stream corridor system—a ‘natural commons’—and seeks to ensure that streams survive in an urban or urbanizing setting, without suffering from degradation of stream channels and streamside riparian setback zones” (Water Canada magazine, May-June 2022)


    “I reached out to Kim Stephens of the Partnership for Water Sustainability BC with an invitation to share more about the people, policy, and projects in BC, through penning an article for Water Canada magazine and sharing of relevant information. I am very keen on showcasing real world water projects, and the people whose lives they impact, with our national audience. The Ecological Accounting Process is a topic the Water Canada audience would really benefit from and that is why we featured it in the May-June 2022 issue,” stated Jen Smith, magazine editor.

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    STORY BEHIND THE STORY OF EAP, THE ECOLOGICAL ACCOUNTING PROECESS: “Because local governments need real numbers to deliver outcomes, we landed on a concept which we call the Riparian Deficit,” stated Tim Pringle, EAP Chair (Waterbucket eNews, June 2022)


    “It is amazing that we have been able to produce a methodology that defines what a stream is, can find the value of the stream using impartial BC Assessment data, and add to that a riparian assessment that looks at the 30m zone and a further 200m upland area to evaluate the water balance condition and what is happening to water pathways,” stated Tim Pringle. “Because local governments need real numbers to deliver outcomes, we landed on a concept which we call the Riparian Deficit. This expresses three measures of value in a single number.”

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    SYNTHESIS REPORT ON ECOLOGICAL ACCOUNTING PROCESS, A BC STRATEGY FOR COMMUNITY INVESTMENT IN STREAM SYSTEMS: “The EAP story is about a journey, one that began circa 1990. Three decades later, parallel tracks have converged in the form of EAP. It has been a building blocks process,” stated Kim Stephens when the Partnership for Water Sustainability released a guidance document flowing from a 6-year program of applied research (June 2022)


    “Know your history. Understand the context. These are key thoughts, and they provide perspective for the story of EAP, the Ecological Accounting Process, as told in the Synthesis Report. 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. The 6-year program of applied research to test, refine and mainstream EAP provides local government with a path forward to address the Riparian Deficit,” stated Kim Stephens.

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    APPLICATION OF EAP, THE ECOLOGICAL ACCOUNTING PROCESS: “Through the EAP work, the concept of ‘Riparian Deficit’ in the natural commons area highlights the shared responsibility of rural and urban landowners to maintain Bertrand Creek, an important asset in the Township of Langley,” stated Melisa Gunn, Agricultural Planner with the Township of Langley in the Metro Vancouver region


    The EAP focus on Bertrand occurs in a framework of policy and actions which protect the environment and natural assets. “Township staff are working on a long-term Ecological Services Initiative program. The EAP analysis will be used to establish the baseline funding for payment to farmers. We are also planning on sharing the EAP results with the Township’s Asset Management Planning team for use in their natural assets inventory. In the future, we can use EAP to expand the program to other watersheds. Overall, the EAP findings support Asset Management for Sustainable Service Delivery,” stated Melisa Gunn.

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    YOUTUBE VIDEO: “In researching tools for local governments to manage natural assets, we discovered EAP, the Ecological Accounting Process initiative, and were intrigued by both their focus on stakeholder collaboration and their unique and straightforward method of valuation,” stated Judy O’Leary, Network Coordinator for the Climate Caucus (May 2022)


    “The Climate Caucus is really interested in learning about local government staff experience with EAP, the Ecological Accounting Process, and other approaches to managing natural assets. The goal of our project is to provide our elected members with a better understanding of this area. how much of this work could local govt staff do themselves? Where could they get data and outside help if needed? Could small places with minimal capacity manage this? Could it apply to natural assets other than riverine habitats? How is it different from MNAI’s approach?” stated Judy O’Leary.

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    ASSET MANAGEMENT FOR SUSTAINABLE DRAINAGE SERVICE DELIVERY: “The stream is the natural component of the municipal ‘drainage service’. The elephant in the room is the unfunded liability for urban stream stabilization and restoration. The ‘drainage service’ is the neglected service and the cost of neglect grows over time,” stated Kim Stephens, Partnership for Water Sustainability in BC (May 2022)


    “Words matter. In the local government setting, what is a natural asset, really? It is a vague term that has become a buzz word that is not helpful. Why not use plain language that creates a mental picture? Stream corridor systems, parks, and conservation areas – these are land uses that constitute ‘natural assets’. From a municipal asset management perspective, however, the most important is stream systems because they provide a ‘package of ecological services’ – drainage, habitat, recreation, and enjoyment of property. Streams are a major focus for community involvement,” stated Kim Stephens.

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    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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