British Columbia Partnership announces that rebuilt “Water Balance Model” is now LIVE!


WBM logo (600p)


Integrate Performance Targets at Three Scales to Protect Stream Health

The Water Balance Model for British Columbia is a scenario comparison tool. In December 2011, the Water Balance Model Partnership completed a year-long program to rebuild both the website front-end and the user interface that connects to the QUALHYMO calculation engine.

Launched in September 2003 at the annual convention of the Union of British Columbia Municipalities, the Water Balance Model can help local governments create a future watershed vision by informing their decisions about the impacts, or not, of their ‘water footprint’ on watershed health.

This scenario comparison tool enables the user to establish performance targets for rainfall capture and runoff control at the site, neighbourhood and watershed scales. It was developed as an extension of Stormwater Planning: A Guidebook for British Columbia, released in June 2002.

The rebuilt Water Balance Model supports implementation of the Beyond the Guidebook initiative. The goal of the initiative is to provide local governments with the tools and experience to restore watershed function over time through a ‘design with nature’ approach to community design that is science-based.

2002 stormwater planning guidebook - cover


User Interface Rebuilt on Linux Platform

“Rebuilt on a Linux platform, the Water Balance Model (WBM) is now quicker and cleaner to use. Also, it incorporates new modules that provide expanded capabilities. Early responses from users exceed expectations. Feedback from those involved in land development and infrastructure servicing confirms that the rebuild is timely. It is filling an on-the-ground need,” reports Richard Boase, Co-Chair, WBM Partnership.

Ted van der gulik (120p) - 2009 “Those who are experienced and already comfortable using the Water Balance Model will be able to transition smoothly into the new version,” adds Ted van der Gulik, Chair. “While the look-and-feel is essentially unchanged, a big difference is performance: the rebuilt Water Balance Model is so much quicker!  Also, the user is no longer required to have the Flash player installed in order run the model.”


Three Points of Entry

Richard boase (120p)“The rebuilt Water Balance Model is tailored to multiple levels of users who have a wide range of technical backgrounds, from hydrology experts to stewardship groups. To provide users with more flexibility, the model now has launch buttons at three scales of investigation: SITE, NEIGHBOURHOOD and WATERSHED,” continues Richard Boase.

“We have re-built the WBM website front end with three points of entry; these three options now allow people to select Dr. charles rowney (120p)  at 2011 water balance model partners foruman environment that fits their knowledge and needs,” emphasizes Dr. Charles Rowney, the Partnership’s Scientific Authority.  “What is important in the way we have made this shift is that it facilitates communication without sacrificing rigor or consistency, because in all cases the answers are founded on the same calculation engine.”


New Modules

“New modules encompass stream erosion, rainwater harvesting and climate change. More modules are coming in 2012, including the Drainage Infrastructure Screening Tool and a tree canopy module. These will open doors to an array of educational opportunities,” explains Richard Boase.

“Over time, the Water Balance Model will be a resource for developers and others to help the public understand the effect of their choices and decisions on the natural environment. It could be incorporated into the curricula for high school and post-secondary institutions. This is already happening at the BC Insitute of Technology in Metro Vancouver; and Camosun College on Vancouver Island.”


Stream Health Methodology

“Embedded in the Water Balance Model is a Stream Health Methodology. It addresses the interaction of runoff (volume and duration) with the physical aspects considered important to the aquatic environment. We can now correlate green infrastructure effectiveness with protection of stream health,” states Richard Boase.

“The Partnership vision is that local governments will utilize the Water Balance Model to establish watershed-specific targets; and then translate those targets into action at the site scale.”

Jim dumont at university of the fraser valley (120p)“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,” states Jim Dumont, the Partnership’s Engineering Application Authority, in summarizing the potential of this unique tool.


To Learn More:

Click on Drainage Modelling in the 21st Century: What are the impediments to success? to read the first of a 2-part series about a presentation by Dr. Charles Rowney at the 2011 Water Balance Model Partners Forum hosted by Metro Vancouver.

Click on Drainage Modelling in the 21st Century: The Uncertainty Cascade tp read the second part of the 2-part series.

Click on Beyond the Guidebook: Methodology for Establishing Science-Based Performance Targets to download an explanatory document.


Posted January 2012