Linking Rainfall, the Landscape, Groundwater and Streamflow: Three BC Engineers Connect Dots to Stream Health


Water Balance Methodology

Released in April 2012 by the Partnership for Water Sustainability in BC and the Living Rivers Trust, the Primer on Integrated Rainwater and Groundwater Management for Lands on Vancouver Island and Beyond provides a science-based understanding of factors that impact on watershed and stream health, either for better or worse. Building blocks in a science-based understanding are:

  • rainfall (precipitation);
  • the ability of the landscape to absorb rainfall;
  • movement of water through the ground; and
  • the resulting flow in streams.

These elements are part of a system that we call the Water Balance. Land development short-circuits this system when the land surface is hardened and below-ground flow paths to streams are eliminated. By describing the linkages and connecting dots, the ultimate goal of the Primer is to foster responsible decisions about use and development of land.

Looking Rainfall and Groundwater Differently

The foundation document for the Primer is StormwaterPlanning: A Guidebook for British Columbia, released by the Province in 2002.

The Primer is grounded in an approach that recognizes that engineering is the ‘art of applied science’. According to Dr. Peter Coombes of the University of Newcastle and the University of Melbourne in Australia, “Good engineering practice relies on astute observation and sound deduction. Breakthroughs in practical understanding and application happen when applied scientists ask the right questions: What are the data telling us?”

Dr. Coombes is a recognized leader in Water Sensitive Urban Design in Australia. In September 2006, he was the keynote speaker at the Water in the City Conference, held in Victoria.

Connecting Dots

The Primer synthesizes the pioneer work of three BC engineers, namely: Kim A Stephens, Jim Dumont and Dr. Gilles Wendling. Because they looked at rainfall and groundwater differently, they were able to connect dots and develop practical applications of water balance thinking.

Looking at rainfall differently started with the UniverCIty Sustainable Community on Burnaby Mountain in Metro Vancouver. This project was the genesis for the Water Balance Methodology that links rainfall to stream health protection.


To download a copy of the latest BC guidance document, click on Primer on Integrated Raiinwater & Groundwater Management for Lands on Vancouver Island and Beyond.