Cowichan Valley is a Regional Demonstration Application of the "Water Balance Model Express"
Note to Reader:
In 2012, the Partnership for Water Sustainability in British Columbia asked the Boards of five regional districts – namely Capital, Cowichan Valley, Nanaimo, Comox Valley and Metro Vancouver – to endorse local government collaboration under the umbrella of the Inter-Regional Education Initiative (IREI). The partners are now in Year 3 of inter-regional collaboration.
In April 2014, Kim Stephens, Partnership Executive Director met with the Regional Services Committee of the Cowichan Valley Regional District (CVRD) to present a progress report on inter-regional collaboration for watershed sustainability. His presentation followed a presentation by Kate Miller, Manager of the CVRD Environmental Initiatives Division, about the launch of the Water Balance Model Express: Cowichan Valley Regional Water Balance Tool.
WBM Express Demonstrates Benefits of Inter-Regional Collaboration
“The Water Balance Model Express is an example what we mean when we refer to the regions sharing resources, information and expertise. The financial contribution by this region was a mere $5000 for a project that was in excess of $300,000. The major funders were Metro Vancouver and the federal government through the Regional Adaptation Collaboratives program,” Kim Stephens informed the CVRD elected representatives.
“This leverage is a very tangible benefit for a very small investment. What excites the Partnership is how the Cowichan Valley stepped up to become one of our first demonstration applications for the WBM Express. This allowed us to work through the approach to populating it with watershed-specific Water Balance Targets.”
Change Behaviour of Individuals at the Site Scale to Protect Watershed Health
“If the average person is not doing anything to their property, then of course they will not be thinking about the Water Balance,” stated Kim Stephens. “But when someone proposes to make a change, that changes everything. The inspiration for the WBM Express came from the District of Central Saanich in 2010 when they passed their Surface Water Management Bylaw and included certain provisions relating to the Water Balance Model.”
“It was an Ah-Ha Moment for the Partnership. We realized that to support Central Saanich and other local governments, we needed to evolve the original Water Balance Model to provide a tool which is easy for the average home person to use.”
“As a result of the bylaw, the folks in Central Saanich have seen a change in behaviour, and that is the key. Changing behaviour at the site level, getting people to understand that they actually live in a watershed, that is where the education starts. But there has to be a reason to start educating them. The reason is when someone wants to make a change to their property.”
Cowichan Valley is a Regional Case Study
“The CVRD has been a regional case study for the development of the Water Balance Model Express tool for property owners,” wrote Kate Miller in her report to the Regional Services Committee. “This tool has resulted in an enhanced capability of the CVRD to maintain its leadership in the areas of watershed management and the development of technical and community based responses to emerging issues which are appropriate for our regional context.”
At the April 2014 meeting of the Regional Services Committee chaired by Director Gerry Giles, and following the presentations by Kate Miller and Kim Stephens, Ladysmith Mayor Rob Hutchins (the Chair of the Cowichan Valley Regional Board) moved the following motion:
That the Water Balance Web Tool and supporting documents be shared with the CVRD and partner municipal planning staff; and further, that planning staff consider integrating the tool into the planning framework to support watershed management objectives at the Official Community Plan level and Development Permit level.
When the CVRD Regional Board met three weeks later in May, the members approved the recommendation.
To Learn More:
To read the complete transcript of the presentation by Kim Stephens as posted on the Vancouver Island community-of-interest, click on Inter-Regional Collaboration: Partnership for Water Sustainability updated members of Cowichan Valley Regional Board in April 2014.
To download a copy of the “Progress Report to Partners”, click on Inter-Regional Collaboration for Watershed Sustainability: Overview of 2014 Work Plan.