ADAPT – Guiding Principles of Integrated Rainwater Management



Note to Readers:

During the November-December 2010 period, the Water Sustainability Action Plan for British Columbia released a series of five articles that were designed to inform local governments and others about a ’course correction’ for Integrated Stormwater Management Plans (ISMPs). The series describes:

  • what ISMPs are;
  • how local governments can do more with less; and
  • how local governments can ensure ISMPs are outcome-oriented.

The first in the series provided regulatory and historical context, identified introduces guiding principles for implementing change on the ground, explained that outcome-oriented means, and set the stage for the four stories that followed.



ADAPT – Guiding Principles of Integrated Rainwater Management

When the Province released Stormwater Planning: A Guidebook for British Columbia in June 2002, the ISMP approach became a recognized provincial process. Although Integrated Watershed Management Plan better described what was envisioned at that time, use of IWMP was not an option because the Province had an existing IWMP process for natural resource management in wilderness watersheds.

In 2002, the Guidebook introduced a set of five guiding principles for ISMPs. These are captured by the acronym ADAPT, where the “P” stands for Plan at four scales – regional, watershed, neighbourhood and site.

“In integrating actions at four scales, the intended purpose of an ISMP is to provide a clear picture of how local governments can be proactive in applying land use planning tools to protect property and aquatic habitat, while at the same time accommodating land development and population growth,” states Kim Stephens, Executive Director, Partnership for Water Sustainability in British Columbia.



Paradigm-Shift to ‘Watershed Blueprints’

“We are constantly learning and adapting,” continues Kim Stephens. “Initially, the focus of the ‘course correction’ was on substituting  RAINWATER for Stormwater in the ISMP acronym. Within a year, however, it was clear that something more was needed. The Bowker Creek Blueprint, a precedent-setting initiative in the Capital Region, provided the necessary inspiration.”

“The term watershed blueprint is resonating because it provides a picture of a desired future condition, and lays out the steps to get there. A watershed blueprint is outcome-oriented because it addresses the question what do we want this place to look like in 50 or 100 years? To quote Jody Watson, Chair of the Bowker Creek Initiative, a watershed blueprint is a truly integrated plan to restore watershed function over decades.

“Because an ISMP is the rainwater component of a Liquid Waste Management Plan, which is a regulatory document signed by the Minister of Environment, an ISMP is a potentially powerful tool to achieve a vision for ‘green’ infrastructure, one that protects stream health and fish habitat, and also anticipates climate change. Branding an ISMP as a ‘Watershed Blueprint’ will help make it real,” concludes Kim Stephens.


To Learn More:

To read the complete story, click on Story #1 in the ISMP Course Correction Series: Re-Focus on Stream Health and Watershed Outcomes to download a report-style PDF document.

For complete information on the 5-part series, click on Water Bucket publishes excerpts from “Beyond the Guidebook 2010″ about why and how to re-focus ISMPs on outcomes — “Outcome-oriented planning is a problem-solving PROCESS. It is not a procedure. It is not a matter of applying a regulation or a checklist. Going through a process becomes talent development. Participants have to be committed to the outcome,” states Tim Pringle, Partnership President.

Also, click on Stormwater Management, Low Impact Development, Sustainable Drainage, Green Infrastructure, RAINwater Management…. what is an appropriate term to use? — For more than a decade, the language used by drainage practitioners around the world has been changing to reflect the evolving objectives in doing business differently.