Flashback to 2006: "Going Beyond the Guidebook" – phrase was coined at the event hosted by the City of Surrey in the Showcasing Green Infrastructure Innovation Series

Note to Reader:

The phrase “Beyond the Guidebook” is a recognized term in British Columbia and is indelibly linked to Stormwater Planning: A Guidebook for British Columbia. The phrase has been in use for a decade. But what is the genesis? The story answers that question. The phrase Beyond the Guidebook resulted from an Aha Moment at the 2006 Showcasing Green Infrastructure Innovation event hosted by the City of Surrey. In February 2009, the Province of British Columbia formalized use of the term in a Circular issued to all local governments.


Convening for Action in Surrey: Create a Liveable City AND Protect Stream Health

A decade ago, the goal of the pilot Showcasing Green Infrastructure Innovation Series was to build regional capacity through sharing of green infrastructure approaches, experiences and lessons learned as an outcome of ‘designing with nature’. The series was a building block process — each time the objective was to raise the bar when celebrating successes in Metro Vancouver municipalities.

The Showcasing Innovation Series was organized as a workshop in the morning followed by field tour in the afternoon. The series was structured this way to create opportunities for practitioners to network and share “how to do it” experiences on the ground.

Design with Nature

Paul Ham_2008_120pBy the mid-1990s, the need for change in the way we develop land was clear. The East Clayton Neighbourhood Concept Plan provided the first large-scale opportunity to ‘test’ a new approach advocated by Patrick Condon and others. This new approach, which is sometimes characterized as ‘the future is the past’, embodied a design with nature way-of-thinking about drainage”, stated Paul Ham, the City’s General Manager of Engineering. He served as Chair of the Green Infrastructure Partnership from 2005 until 2008, when he retired from government.

Fergus Creek – pilot for “Beyond the Guidebook”

The Fergus Creek watershed plan was the main focus of shared learning at the Surrey event. The title of the Fergus Creek presentation included the phrase Beyond the Creek to emphasize the over-arching importance of land use changes on hydrology and stream health.  Fergus was the demonstration application for a new runoff-based approach to drainage modelling. This approach was showcased to a Metro Vancouver audience in June 2006. Since then, Fergus has been known as the pilot for the Beyond the Guidebook Initiative.

“The inspiration for using the phrase Beyond the Guidebook came to me as I was moderating the town-hall segment after Jim Dumont, Remi Dube and Judy McCleod had co-presented the Fergus Creek story. As I reflected on Jim’s part of the presentation, something went click in my mind. As I looked out at the audience, I paused and then said…today you learned how the City of Surrey is going beyond the Guidebook,” recalls Kim Stephens. He was moderator for the Showcasing Series. At the time, he was Program Coordinator for the Water Sustainability Action Plan for BC. Today, he is Executive Director, Partnership for Water Sustainability in BC.

KimStephens_March2006_v2_120pI could make that statement because I was the project manager and principal author of Stormwater Planning: A Guidebook for British Columbia,released in 2002. That background allowed me to connect the dots in ways that others could not. That background provided me with insights as to how the Guidebook Steering Committee envisioned things playing out over time.

“With release of the Guidebook, the Province had changed the direction of stormwater management in British Columbia, with an initial goal of capturing rainfall at the site. But that was only the start of the journey. We described this as the first paradigm-shift because the objective was to change how people view the development site, and get them thinking about how to change those practices for the better.”

“The Guidebook set the stage for what needed to come next, and that is what Jim Dumont accomplished when he evolved the Water Balance Methodology to address stream health. The second paradigm-shift involved getting drainage practitioners thinking about what level of rainwater runoff volume reduction makes sense at the site, catchment and watershed scales. This is the importance and value of the Fergus Creek pilot – it demonstrated how to do exactly that.”

“Afterwards I spoke to Paul Ham, Jim Dumont, Remi Dube and others on the inter-governmental partnership about how to frame the approach. Going forward, I proposed, let’s brand what we are doing as the Beyond the Guidebook Initiative. It makes sense, is succinct and provides continuity. Looking back, it took an Aha Moment to recognize what now seems obvious. The rest is history, as they say,” concludes Kim Stephens.

To Learn More:

In June 2006, the City of Surrey hosted the second in the series. For the complete story, click on Showcasing Innovation in the City of Surrey. To download a PDF copy of the AGENDA, click on the image below.


Fergus Watershed: Beyond the Creek

At the Surrey Showcasing Innovation event, City staff emphasized the approach the City is developing under the umbrella of the Fergus Creek Integrated Stormwater Management Plan (ISMP) to facilitate changes in how land is developed and/or redeveloped. The underlying theme was effective integration to achieve results on-the-ground.

2006_Remi-Dube_City-of-Surrey_120p“Fergus is  the first of the new generation of ISMPs that the City is undertaking. Our goal is to develop an array of tools under the umbrella of the Fergus ISMP,” stated Remi Dubé, City of Surrey Drainage Planning Manager. “Because we wished to avoid a cookie-cutter approach that is too often an outcome of this type of multi-year program, we challenged the consulting engineering community to demonstrate their innovation in providing us with a work plan that would actually facilitate changes in how land is developed and/or re-developed in Surrey.

“Jim Dumont rose to the challenge. He provided the City with a vision of what could be accomplished on the ground through a pragmatic approach that is under-pinned by a design with nature philosophy. The City bought into that vision.”

“The Fergus plan is based on implementing ‘green solutions’ as an alternative to conventional engineered ‘blue solutions’. Rather than an emphasis on large-scale storage ponds, rainwater runoff will be mostly managed through the use of contiguous large-scale greenways.”

2006_Showcasing-Surrey-Innovation_Fergus watershed

Going Beyond the Guidebook

“There is a need for a new approach to hydrologic design. A key message is that a rainfall-based approach does not work effectively. This is why I advocate a runoff-based approach. Duration of discharge is important because it links directly to stream health”, stated Jim Dumont.

2006_Surrey-Showcasing_Jim Dumont_120p“The Guidebook formalized a science-based understanding to set performance targets for reducing rainwater runoff volumes and rates.The Guidebook formalized the Integrated Strategy for Managing the Complete Spectrum of Rainfall Events as the foundation for a “design with nature” approach to rainfall capture and runoff control. The key to implementing the strategy is that most of the annual rain volume falls as light showers.”

“The Fergus ISMP ‘goes beyond the Guidebook’ because it is built around a science-based methodology that correlates runoff volume (and hence volume reduction measures) with stream health as measured by erosion and sedimentation. In short, the Fergus ISMP has taken performance target thinking to the next level of detail.”

“The objective in applying this refinement of the performance target methodology is to establish what level of runoff volume reduction is optimal. Continuous simulation of the rainfall-runoff response for the Fergus watershed shows, for example, that full implementation of volume reduction measures for all land uses would actually remove all the baseflow from the creek.”

“Clearly, this outcome would be detrimental to the aquatic resource. This finding provided the impetus to determine the optimum combination of volume reduction measures, both for new development and retrofitting of existing development,” concluded Jim Dumont.

2006_Jim Dumont_Fergus Creek_Discharge Exceedance