What Happens on the Land Matters: Partnership for Water Sustainability’s “Feast AND Famine Workshop” showcased solutions and tools for building water-resilient communities (Dec 2015)
Note to Reader:
The Spring 2016 issue of Watermark Magazine (published by the BC Water & Waste Association) includes an article that describes the Feast AND Famine Workshop held in December 2015, and co-hosted by the Partnership for Water Sustainability in BC and the Irrigation Industry Association of BC.
Download Feast AND Famine, Flood AND Drought: Solutions and tools for building water-resilient communities to read the complete article. The co-authors are Kim Stephens, Ted van der Gulik, Bob Sandford and Glen Brown.
Flood AND Drought: What Happened to the Water Balance?
Adaptation to a changing climate was a unifying theme. Designed to spark a conversation that would reverberate after the workshop, Feast AND Famine shared a vision for ‘designing with nature’ to restore hydrologic integrity and maintain the seasonal ‘water balance’. Attendees were introduced to solutions and tools that can help communities achieve water resiliency. Both the urban and agricultural perspectives were represented.
Manage Risk and Build Resilience
Western North America may be crossing an invisible threshold into a different hydro-meteorological regime. Annual volumes of water entering and exiting regions are not necessarily changing. Instead, what is changing is how and when water arrives and leaves – its flood and drought! The Feast AND Famine Workshop addressed this over-arching question: What should we expect and what can we do to build “water-resilient communities”?
A decade earlier, the 2003 “teachable year” had set in motion water sustainability processes in BC, guided by a vision to develop solutions and tools that would help communities manage risk and build resiliency in response to a changing climate.
Wetter, Warmer Winters;
Longer, Drier Summers
Bob Sandford – internationally known author, water champion and keynote speaker – provided this big picture context at the Feast AND Famine Workshop: “The drought that extended this past winter, spring and summer from Vancouver Island to Manitoba and from Mexico to the Yukon is an indicator that Western North America may be crossing an invisible threshold into a different hydro-meteorological regime.”
“After a period of relative hydro-climatic stability, changes in the composition of the Earth’s atmosphere have resulted in the acceleration of the global hydrologic cycle with huge implications. We can expect deeper, more persistent drought punctuated by flooding.”
“We had no idea until recently of how much influence the hydrological cycle has on our day to day lives or on the broader conditions that define the distribution and diversity of life on this planet. It has been very difficult even for experts to grasp the full extent of what the loss of relative hydrological stability means,” underscored Bob Sandford.
A Solution: Design with Nature
“During the late 1960s, BC began its multi-faceted and ongoing journey towards sustainability. It has taken the past decade to begin implementing a policy, program and regulatory framework that makes ‘Water-Resilient Communities’ achievable,” stated Kim Stephens, Executive Director, Partnership for Water Sustainability in BC.
“Milestone years in this journey are 2003 (‘the teachable year’), 2008 (‘the call to action’) and 2014 (‘game-changers’). A unifying theme for these three milestone years is design with nature and build greener communities.”
“The workshop unveiled the branding graphic for the three game-changers, namely: Develop with Care 2014, the Water Sustainability Act, and Asset Management for Sustainable Service Delivery: A BC Framework. The three are a mutually reinforcing package.”
“The three enable necessary actions by local governments to protect and/or restore the natural pathways by which rainfall reaches streams. This would achieve the goal of redistributing the seasonal water balance to restore hydrologic integrity in urban areas,” concluded Kim Stephens.
To Learn More:
Download Feast AND Famine, Flood AND Drought: Solutions and tools for building water-resilient communities to read the complete article.