British Columbia Inter-Governmental Partnership Announces Plan to Expand the Capabilities of Online Tool for Green Design


To sustain the early success of the Water Balance Model, and in response to ‘needs and wants’ identified through discussions with the Alberta Low Impact Development Partnership (ALIDP) and others, the British Columbia Inter-Governmental Partnership (IGP) has taken the first steps along a pathway that will materially expand the capabilities of the web-accessible Water Balance Model: This has involved an evaluation of how to most effectively enhance the hydrology engine; and has led to the decision to merge the Water Balance Model with QUALHYMO.

According to Ted van der Gulik (British Columbia Ministry of Agriculture and Ted van der gulikLands), IGP Chair, “The Water Balance Model has emerged as the tool of choice in making sustainable land development decisions because it demonstrates how to achieve a light ‘hydrologic footprint’. An essential element of the outreach program that we have undertaken in promoting use of the Water Balance Model is to encourage the integration of perspectives through a collegial and interdisciplinary approach that enables design professionals to collaborate to achieve community liveability objectives.” To download a brochure that has the complete story, click on this link: IGP Launches Plan to Expand Capabilities of Online Tool for Green Design


The Integrated Model will have Expanded Capabilities

“The Partnership believes we are at a turning point in the evolution of this decision support tool. The challenge is to provide expanded functionality for engineers yet at the same avoid self-defeating complexity that would make the Water Balance Model unattractive to the other target audiences,” continued van der Gulik, “We have therefore decided to make a bold leap forward to provide a more complete tool.  Merging the Water Balance Model with QUALHYMO will dramatically expand the capabilities of the Water Balance Model because it will add:

– Rainwater storage routing
– Water quality
– Stream erosion
– Drainage area flow routing
– Snowmelt runoff (and ultimately freeze-thaw)

The combination of these two tools will enable assessment of source control performance plus model the overflows from a site once source controls have reached capacity.”

One-Stop Shopping for Engineers: “The principal focus of the WBM is on source controls for runoff volume reduction. For drainage engineers, however, a practical modelling tool must also concentrate on the overflows from the site. This is the significance of having the capability to store and route the outflow from a subdivision and/or neighbourhood through a detention pond or down a stream channel”, added Kim Stephens, Project Coordinator for the Inter-Governmental Partnership.

QUALHYMO is a rainfall-runoff model originally developed in Ottawa by Dr. Charles Rowney in the 1980s, with funding from the Ontario Ministry of Environment, to assess the water quality in the Rideau Canal. The concept of merging the WBM and QUALHYMO emerged as an appropriate next step in the evolution of the WBM because:

  • Both are Canadian.
  • Both are based on a philosophy of ‘keeping it simple’.
  • Both are non-proprietary.
  • Each has different complementary strengths.
  • QUALHYMO contains routines that incorporate many features requested by current WBM users.
  • Expanded capability would provide an opportunity to more effectively promote use of the WBM in the rest of the country, and within the engineering community.

QUALHYMO is similar to the WBM in that it offers the potential to have an ‘Open Source’ calculation engine that has gone through numerous verification and testing processes. The validation of the engine has already been done and the model is a proven piece of software.


Intergarion of water balance model & qualhymo

The advantage in merging with QUALHYMO lies in the access to the output and reporting and how much effort would be expended in extracting the information that is important. QUALHYMO provides the desired information without having to write too much new code to extract the information. This is what facilitates merging of the two tools, from both the timing and cost perspectives.

Dr. Charles Rowney is a Member of the Project Team

“The Inter-Governmental Partnership is also pleased to announce that Dr. Charles Rowney will play a guiding role in the merging of the two models. Because Dr. Rowney is one of the pioneers of hydrologic modelling in Canada, we are excited that he will be hands-on with the project. Dr. Rowney has informed us that he too is excited to have this opportunity to contribute his knowledge, experience, and wisdom”, noted Laura Maclean (Environment Canada), Co-Chair of the Inter-Governmental Partnership.

“Charles Rowney has both North American and European experience (France, Charles rowney (july 2006)Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Scotland, Ireland and England). Most recently, he served as Chief Knowledge Officer (CKO) at CDM, one of the top 20 engineering design firms in the United States. As CKO he had overall responsibility for knowledge management initiatives including implementation of virtual collaboration platforms, information and document management systems, and communities of practice for over 100 distinct technical and administrative disciplines”, added Kim Stephens.

Work on the project will commence in the third quarter of 2006, and will take approximately one year to complete.


First posted on the Green Infrastructure Community-of-Interest in June 2006