Across Canada Workshop Series on Resilient Rainwater Management: BC’s Partnership for Water Sustainability will showcase three web-based decision tools


Note to Reader:

Starting on October 23 and ending on November 3, the 5-city 2014 Across Canada Workshop Series on Resilient Rainwater Management will feature workshop events in Calgary, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal and Halifax. Practitioners will have an opportunity to learn about cost-effective tools developed in BC for climate adaptation and watershed health. Below, three on-line tools are profiled.

BC Tools

Resilient Rainwater Management

“Released in 2008, Living Water Smart, BC’s Water Plan identified 45 actions and targets that established expectations as to how land will be developed and water will be used in BC. To make it possible to achieve a number of those targets and actions, the Province led development of a suite of tools,” reports Ted van der Gulik, President of the Partnership for Water Sustainability in BC. Previously, he was the Senior Engineer with Ted van der Gulik (160p) - 2009the BC Ministry of Agriculture. He was the Province’s lead person for development of all but the Water Conservation Calculator.

“These tools are all web-based and accessible to anyone with a computer. They are intended to support enhanced approaches to water management. They can be applied on-the-ground by land and water practitioners. Our vision is that they will collectively facilitate informed decision-making with respect to climate change adaptation.”

Choose to Live Water Smart

“As part of the program for the Across Canada Workshop Series on Sustainable Rainwater Management, we will demonstrate application of three of these tools, namely: Water Balance Model Express for Landowners; Drainage Infrastructure Screening Tool; and Landscape Irrigation Scheduling Calculator.”

“By choosing to live water smart, communities will be more prepared for climate change and their quality of life will be enhanced. If we can show how to get the water part right, then other parts are more likely to follow,” concludes Ted van der Gulik.

To Learn More:

In 2002, Stormwater Planning: A Guidebook for British Columbia advanced this provocative premise: land development and watershed protection can be compatible. This radical shift in thinking resulted from recognition of HOW a science-based understanding could bridge the gap between high-level policy objectives and site design practices.

Then ‘Beyond the Guidebook 2010′ connected the dots between RAINwater Management and Drought Management and showed how to achieve water sustainability through outcome-oriented urban watershed plans.

To download a copy, click on Beyond the Guidebook 2010: Implementing a New Culture for Urban Watershed Protection and Restoration in British Columbia


Water Balance Model Express Helps Landowners Slow, Spread & Sink Rainwater

In October 2011, the Metro Vancouver Regional Board held a special meeting at which time it amended the 2012 budget to include a $50,000 grant that would help fund development of the Water Balance Model Express. The Board recognized that the ‘WBM Express’ would help Metro Vancouver members better deliver on regulatory compliance, in particular the Minister of Environment’s conditions of approval related to protection of watershed health.

The Metro Vancouver grant then triggered matching funding from the Regional Adaptation Collaboratives (RAC), a federal-provincial program that supported coordinated action towards regional climate change adaptation decision-making by local government.

WBM-Express_screen shot

Mimic the Natural Water Balance

“The first two demonstration applications of the web-based and interactive WBM Express are now LIVE. The District of North Vancouver in the Metro Vancouver region, and the Ted-van-der-Gulik_Jan-2013_v5_120pCowichan Valley Regional District on Vancouver Island, have both successfully completed beta-testing and both versions are functional for public use,” states Ted van der Gulik.

“The Express allows the homeowner to integrate and balance the three watershed-based performance targets established by the partner local government tomimic the Natural Water Balance.”

“Because the Express is hosted on the partner local government website, homeowners can quickly size and test landscape-based solutions – such as rain gardens and absorbent soil – that slow, sink and spread rainwater. The interface is no more complex than the dash board of a car.”

“The Express will enable local governments to more easily deliver on regulatory requirements related to protection and restoration of Watershed Health.”

To Learn More:

To test drive the Water Balance Model Express for Landowners (“WBM Express”), click on either Cowichan Valley Regional Water Balance Tool or on Water Balance Model Express for the District of North Vancouver.

In February 2014, the Partnership released the Primer on Water Balance Methodology for Protecting Watershed Health to provide water resource practitioner with how-to-guidance for applying an analytical process to establish Watershed-based Targets that “mimic the Natural Water Balance”.

For the complete story of the genesis, funding, development and implementation of the WBM Express, click here to access the homepage on the Rainwater Management community-of-interest.

How Performance Targets for Storage, Infiltration and Flow Release are incorporated in a Rain Garden Design                         (image source: “Stormwater Source Control Design Guidelines 2012 (Final Report), Metro Vancouver, British Columbia)

How Performance Targets for Storage, Infiltration and Flow Release are incorporated in a Rain Garden Design (image source: “Stormwater Source Control Design Guidelines 2012 (Final Report), Metro Vancouver, British Columbia)

Drainage Infrastructure Screening Tool Can Help Local Governments Save Money

Federal funding support provided through Natural Resources Canada’s Regional Adaptation Collaborative Program also enabled the Partnership to develop the Drainage Infrastructure Screening Tool as an add-on to the Water Balance Model (WBM) decision support tool.

Although housed on the same site, the web-based Screening Tool is actually stand-alone from the WBM because it addresses a different evaluation need on the part of local governments. The WBM is used for green infrastructure evaluation whereas the Screening Tool is applied to drainage conveyance systems.

An Intermediate Step in the Assessment Process

“The need for the screening tool was identified in response to a concern identified by Metro Vancouver municipalities and highlighted by the advisory Reference Panel during development of the region’s Integrated Liquid Waste & Resource Management Plan. This is a regulatory tool Kim Stephens_May2014_120pthat was approved by the BC Minister of Environment in 2011. It incorporated the Reference Panel’s recommendations,” states Kim Stephens, Partnership Executive Director and Chair of the Reference Panel (2008-2010).

“The Reference Panel Final Report stated that plans that did not integrate land use and drainage planning had resulted in unaffordable multi-million dollar infrastructure budget items that had become municipal liabilities, without providing offsetting stream health benefits. The report pointed out that this was resulting in paralysis. A year later, recognition of the need to look at drainage analysis differently resulted in Ministry of Environment support and federal funding to develop the Drainage Infrastructure Screening Tool to add to the practitioner toolbox.”

“The screening tool is not about criticising conventional drainage practices. It is about looking for simpler methods to determine if there is a problem that needs detailed Jim-Dumont_2011_120panalysis. It is not, and never was, intended to be a replacement for detailed analyses,” explains Jim Dumont, the Partnership’s Engineering Applications Authority.

“It should be seen as an intermediary step in the assessment process that also happens to include the opportunity to provide a look at how climate change will affect the drainage systems.”

Achieve More At Less Cost: Local Governments Can Rate Drainage System Capacity Without Need for Expensive Modelling of Every Pipe

“The screening tool examines the pipe system that is tributary to a drainage outlet or outfall. Assessing catchments one-by-one keeps the analysis logical, simple and manageable,” continues Jim Dumont.

“Every pipe within each catchment is evaluated by examining the INSTALLED PIPE CAPACIY. Based on detailed modelling experience, we know that ‘problems’ fall within a narrow range. The lesson learned is that one need not model every section of pipe. This is why the screening tool compares installed pipe capacity to design discharge.”

“The Drainage Infrastructure Screening Tool applies these lessons learned to establish priorities and make decisions. The Level-of-Service approach is inexpensive and provides relevant information for capital planning. It does this without the detailed and expensive simulation of the drainage system. The process establishes existing system capacity and then identifies those parts that do not meet this standard. These can be prioritized and entered into a capital plan.”

“By applying  the Drainage Infrastructure Screening Tool, it is now quite easy for local governments to check and verify the relative impact of a changing climate on conveyance capacity. The resilience of a system depends on the capacity a system has now and how drastic future climate change might be. The tool also makes it is easy to assess the relative significance of changes in land use, in particular densification. Local governments can now consider both climate change and land use change at the same time, and with the same tool,” concludes Jim Dumont.

To Learn More:

To download a copy of an article published in the Spring 2012 issue of the Asset Management BC Newsletter, click on Your Assets? – Drainage Infrastructure Screening Tool Saves Money! and scroll down to page 2.

To read a comprehensive story posted elsewhere on the Rainwater Management community-of-interest, click on Achieve More At Less Cost: Local Governments Can Rate Drainage System Capacity Without Need for Expensive Modelling of Every Pipe

To read about the District of North Vancouver’s perspective, click on Drainage Infrastructure Screening Tool: A Web-Based Application of Common-Sense Engineering

Also, click on British Columbia Partnership announces that Drainage Infrastructure Screening Tool is now LIVE! to access the Water Balance Model website.


Landscape Irrigation Scheduling Calculator is a National Tool

The Irrigation Scheduling Calculator was developed solely by the BC Ministry of Agriculture and the Irrigation Industry Association of British Columbia with funding from the Canada British Columbia Water Supply Expansion Program. While the calculator was originally developed specifically for use in British Columbia, it is now in use across the country.


Use of the calculator assists irrigators in developing a proper irrigation schedule taking into account the location, landscape, soil and irrigation system operation parameters. The calculator requires the following site information to be collected:

  • Soil type and depth of soil on site
  • Crop rooting depth
  • The flow rate of a full circle sprinkler
  • Sprinker spacing

The calculator will provide the irrigator with the number of days to water, the irrigation run time for each day and the maximum run time per cycle.

“The irrigation scheduling calculator provides an irrigation schedule in real time, allowing a user to connect directly to approximately 500 climate stations across Canada.  The calculator can be used for all types of landscape and agriculture irrigation systems and for many crops grown in Canada,” reports Ted van der Gulik.

To Learn More:

For more information, visit the Irrigation Industry Association of BC website at; or download the Landscape Irrigation Scheduling Calculator Users Guide.

Landscape Irrigation Scheduling Calculator_cover