Partnership unveiled web-based “Water Balance Model Express for Landowners” at Cowichan Valley Forum in February 2014
Mimic the Water Balance
In 2002, looking at rainfall differently led the Province of British Columbia to adopt the Water Balance Methodology, initiate a performance target approach to capturing rain where it falls, and initiate changes in the ways rainwater runoff is returned to streams. The goal is protect watershed and stream health.
Provincial direction is to mimic the natural Water Balance to protect and/or restore stream and watershed health. This is the “designing with nature” strategy.
Web-Based Tools Promote Changes in Practice
Looking at rainfall differently resulted in the Water Balance Model for British Columbia (WBM), a web-based scenario comparison tool. Now, the WBM Express for Landowners provides local governments with the capability to promote changes in practice on individual properties.
Two local governments – the District of North Vancouver in the Metro Vancouver region, and the Cowichan Valley Regional District (CVRD) on Vancouver Island – are the initial demonstration applications for the WBM Express. In February 2014, the Cowichan version was unveiled at a forum session hosted by the CVRD and Cowichan Watershed Board in Duncan, BC
To test drive the WBM Express, click on Cowichan Valley Regional Water Balance Tool.
Look at Properties Differently
“An increasing building footprint on properties is short-circuiting the WATER BALANCE. This creates risks for local government, both financial and environmental. If we want to make change, then we have to find a way to influence landowners to look at their properties differently,” states Richard Boase (District of North Vancouver). He is Co-Chair of the Water Balance Model initiative, founded in 2002.
“The web-based WBM Express for Landowners demonstrates local government implementation in support of homeowner action because individual actions at the site level are cumulative and therefore significant. This interactive tool allows property owners to quickly size and test landscape-based solutions that slow, sink and spread rainwater.”
Implement Watershed-Specific Targets
“The CVRD wants to ensure that our region’s watersheds continue to function effectively so that both our communities, the environment and fisheries get the right amount of water at the right time,” continues Kate Miller, Manager of the CVRD Environmental Initiatives Division.
“In the face of extreme weather events and forecast climate scenarios, the WBM Express gives homeowners a useful tool to help protect their properties and their watershed’s ability to cope with rainfall while allowing municipal infrastructure’s performance to be extended.”
“The WBM Express allows us to implement specific targets for each of our communities’ watersheds so that the homeowner simply has to select their appropriate watershed and concentrate on their property’s function. All the background calculations and targets are now behind the scenes, making it an effective public communications tool which operates on a sound engineering base.”
“The critical watershed targets are now pre-set by each watershed in the WBM Express for volume of rainwater stored, infiltration to groundwater, and release to interflow and eventually our valuable rivers. This tool also allows us to change the focus from political or administrative boundaries to more appropriate watershed-based communications. Making this linkage will help us in communicating more effectively with the public.”
“The web interface for the WBM Express is colourful, effective, fast and no more complex than the dash board of a car, stripping the solution down to a few sliders that drive dials. Outcomes and impacts on stream health are displayed in real time. The Express guides the property owner through a simple and visually oriented set of sizing options for rain gardens, cisterns, infiltration swales and landscaping.
To Learn More:
The Partnership for Water Sustainability unveiled the WBM Express at a session hosted by the CVRD and Cowichan Watershed Board on February 21st in Duncan, BC. For the complete story, click on Protecting Watershed Health: “Primer on Water Balance Methodology” released at Cowichan Valley forum
To test drive the WBM Express, click on http://cvrd.waterbalance-express.ca/.