Partnership Releases Rollout Plan for Re-Built Water Balance Model
Note to Reader:
The Water Balance Model is a tool in the toolbox for the Province’s Living Water Smart and Green Communities initiatives. It is a scenario modelling and decision support tool. It is accessible to multiple levels of users who have a wide range of technical backgrounds, from hydrology experts to stewardship groups.
The Partnership for Water Sustainability in British Columbia is helping the Province implement these two initiatives. In April 2011, the Partnership announced that the Water Balance Model is being re-built in two stages:
- “Version 2.0”: By June 2011, convert the operating platform to one that has a PHP-AJAX-HTML basis; and launch the Stream Erosion and Water Re-Use Modules
- “Version 2.1”: By Fall 2011, replace the website front-end with one that has three points of entry to the operating platform; and launch the Climate Change and Tree Canopy Modules.
The re-built Water Balance Model will allow users to select an environment that fits their knowledge and needs; and having three launch points will facilitate establishing and integrating performance targets at three scales, namely: watershed, neighbourhood and site.
The article below elaborates on Version 2.0; foreshadows Version 2.1; and summarizes the implications of computing technology decisions. To download a PDF version of the article, click on Partnership Releases Rollout Plan for Re-Built Water Balance Model.
Rollout of ‘Version 2.0’ in June
“We are on schedule. Version 2.0 is completed, and we are currently in beta-testing mode,” reports Ted van der Gulik, Chair of the Water Balance Model Partnership. “Before the end of June we will go LIVE, and work on Version 2.1 will follow immediately.
“During the transition period leading up to the ‘Go Live’ change-over, Partners and Paying Subscribers will have the opportunity to run both the old and new versions and compare the results.”
“Those who are experienced and already comfortable using the Water Balance Model will be able to transition smoothly into Version 2.0. While the look-and-feel is essentially unchanged, Version 2.0 is streamlined and cleaner. A big difference is performance: Version 2.0 is so much quicker! Also, the user is no longer required to have the Flash player installed in order run the model.”
Stream Erosion and Water Re-Use Modules
Funding from the Canada Mortgage & Housing Corporation, Environment Canada, CIty of Calgary and the federal government’s Regional Adaptation Collaboration (RAC) program has enabled development of four modules, two of which are being unveiled in Version 2.0, namely: Stream Erosion Module; and Water Re-Use Module.
The Stream Erosion Module extends the QUALHYMO engine and WBM interface in order to enable assessment of natural stream sections and development of an erosion index for watershed scenario comparison and development of mitigation methodologies.
The Water Re-Use Module enables assessment of domestic non-potable reuse of rainwater as an alternative to discharge as waste.
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A Look Ahead to ‘Version 2.1’ in the Fall
“As the Water Balance Model community has grown and user preferences have evolved, we have reached a point where one WBM interface no longer works for everyone. When we launch Version 2.1 this Fall, we will be providing an environment that supports communities that range from highly experienced experts to enthusiastic newcomers,” reports Dr. Charles Rowney, the Partnership’s Scientific Authority.
“We are re-building the WBM website front end with three points of entry; these three options will allow people to select an environment that fits their knowledge and needs. What is important in the way we’re making this shift is that it facilitates communication without sacrificing rigor or consistency, because in all cases the answers will be founded on the same calculation engine.”
Three Scales of Integration
According to Dr. Rowney, three launch points correspond to three common investigation scenarios:
- WBM for the Watershed– “This is the scale where the big environmental questions are answered; it is about what happens to the creek as a result of the way the whole system is managed. It is where the environmental science makes itself felt and where features like the Erosion Module provide answers that make stream health real to planners and engineers, or where the long term impact of build-out can be explored.”
- WBM for the Neighbourhood– “This is the scale of interest to the developer who, consistent with the plan for the watershed and with best practices in local development, wants to lay out a development that includes integrated local solutions. This is where things like regional or multi-dwelling detention facilities can be evaluated, or where Green Infrastructure plans can be looked at in detail.”
- WBM Express for Homeowners – “This is the lot or site scale, and is especially relevant to redevelopment scenarios where infilling is of interest, or to homeowners interested in exploring the kinds of conservation and environmentally appropriate solutions they can apply on their own lot. Included in this are things like re-use options or cisterns that conserve water for gardening or other uses at home, or where porous paving or other green infrastructure drainage techniques are brought to bear.”
“The Water Balance Model allows comparison of multiple scenarios of watershed condition using historical climate data. This supports the design of communities that have no net impact on stream environments,” adds Jim Dumont, the Partnership’s Engineering Application Authority.
How to Set Performance Targets
The Water Balance Model enables the user to establish performance targets for rainfall capture and runoff control at the site, neighbourhood and watershed scales. To learn more, click on Beyond the Guidebook: Methodology for Establishing Science-Based Performance Targets.
Drainage Modelling in the 21st Century
At the Water Balance Model Partners Forum hosted by Metro Vancouver in April 2011, Dr. Charles Rowney reported out on the implications of computing technology decisions. He is a recognized international authority, and is the creator of the QUALHYMO calculation engine.
The Voice of Experience
In providing context for the strategy behind development of the Water Balance Model, Dr. Rowney’s theme was: “The Voice of Experience – What we now know about what drives a successful model“.
“What we doing with the Water Balance Model is exciting. It is a direct attack on what it takes to get the answers. We are evolving the state of practice. (British Columbia) is the only place I know of where there is a link between the applied practice and climate change, and what are we going to do to make this a routine part of our analysis,” stated Dr. Rowney.
“We have learned is that we really need to look at things from the point of view of the solution. As we have been working on the Water Balance Model, we have been orienting it to THE SOLUTION. We are keeping it as simple as possible, but no simpler. The tool has to be consistent, inexpensive, and workable with limited data. It has to fit the local context, and it has to be able to evolve as we learn.”
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