Towards Watershed Sustainability: "Sustainable Service Delivery for Watershed Systems, through Asset Management" applies to land uses that local government regulates (Beyond the Guidebook 2015)

Note to Reader:

Figure1_provincial game-changersThe Province of British Columbia has long recognized that communities are in the best position to develop solutions which meet their own unique needs and local conditions. Furthermore, the emphasis in BC is on progressing towards a desired outcome. 

Three landmark initiatives came to fruition in 2014. All embody the enabling philosophy. Together they provide a platform for integrated and coordinated actions that would enable local governments to achieve Sustainable Watershed Systems, through Asset Management.

Accepted ‘standards of practice’- especially those for engineering, planning and finance – influence the form and function of the Built Environment. Creating a watershed health legacy will ultimately depend on implementing ‘Design with Nature’ standards of practice.

New Paradigm_Dec2015

Sustainable Service Delivery for Watershed Systems

Wally-Wells_120p“The Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM), in partnership with the Province and Asset Management BC, developed the BC Framework. It sets strategic direction for asset management and its implementation in BC,” states Wally Wells,Executive Director, Asset Management BC.

The BC Framework makes the link between local government services, the infrastructure that supports the delivery of those services, and the health of watershed systems. “The focus on outcomes allows local governments to tailor an approach to individual needs and capacities,” notes Wally Wells.

Value Natural Services

According to Wally Wells, the BC Framework defines asset management as a continuous process (not a discrete task). The PLAN is only a part of the overall process. The PROCESS deals with all of the components necessary to:

  • refocus the business process to properly manage a community’s infrastructure within the built environment; and
  • understand the life-cycle implications of managing the built and natural environments as integrated components of a healthy watershed.

Kim Stephens_May2014_120p“The BC Framework recognizes that nature, and the ecosystem services that it provides, are a fundamental and integral part of a community’s infrastructure system. This recognition reflects an understanding that trees, soil, green spaces, and water contribute a valuable municipal function in maintaining the hydrologic integrity of a healthy watershed,” adds Kim Stephens, Executive Director, Partnership for Water Sustainability in. He is also editor and principal author of Beyond the Guidebook 2015.

“The ultimate vision for fully integrated Sustainable Service Delivery is that communities would protect, preserve, restore, and manage these natural assets in the same way that they manage their engineered assets.”

Get It Right At the Front End

Holistic application of the BC Framework would help local governments reconcile two dilemmas:

  • Engineered assets: The long-term operating, maintenance and renewal cost of infrastructure assets is usually about 80 percent of the life-cycle cost. Communities bear this cost forever. Often this is not adequately funded through property taxation and utility charges. For this reason, the life-cycle shortfall is characterized as an ‘unfunded infrastructure liability.’
  • Natural assets: Loss of hydrologic integrity is a consequence of historical drainage and ‘stormwater management’ practices that do not respect the Water Balance. Local governments bear the entire financial burden to stabilize and restore watershed systems impacted by increased runoff volumes after the landscape is transformed by development. This too is an ‘unfunded infrastructure liability.’

Sustainable Service Delivery for watershed systems, and ‘getting it right at the front-end,’ would apply to land uses that local governments regulate and/or can influence within settled areas of watersheds (Figure 17 below is extracted from Part B of Beyond the Guidebook 2015; click on the image to download a PDF copy).

Inform and Educate Practitioners

By 2017, an over-arching program goal of the Georgia Basin Inter-Regional Educational Initiative (IREI) is that local governments in the partner regions would truly understand how natural systems support municipal services and would be able to fully integrate this understanding and application of the Water Balance Methodology as the technical foundation for programs, planning and funding.

Professional development provided by the IREI program would result in a common understanding among all departments within an organization about how they could align their efforts to achieve Sustainable Watershed Systems, through Asset Management.

BYGB 2015_Fig17 in Part B