Hydrology Rules! – protect the integrity of water balance pathways

Note to Reader:

watercanada-2016-sepoct_cover_200pThe theme for the September-October 2016 issue of Canada Water magazine is: $250 Billion Sink or Swim: How Canada Can Finance the Water Infrastructure Gap. The number increases as assets deteriorate. However, the true scale of the infrastructure deficit in Canada is unknown precisely because there is no set of asset management plans to draw from.

Canada’s drinking waters, wastewater, and stormwater infrastructure is essential for maintaining quality of life, the environment, and is the backbone of the environment. And so – sink or swim. How do communities close the gap? Where will the money come from?

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Watersheds as Infrastructure Assets

kim-stephens_june2016_img_0578_120pThe September-October 2016 issue features an article by Kim Stephens, Executive Director of the Partnership for Water Sustainability in British Columbia. His article provides historical context for evolution of an “asset management approach” to urban watershed management in British Columbia. He describes the influence that Washington State research had in the 1990s about changing the conversation from one that was engineering-centric to one that is about whole systems thinking.

Bill-Derry_120p“In the 1990s, Bill Derry, the founding Chair, Washington State Stormwater Managers Committee, and I led a workshop program for B.C. local government, and provided cross-border sharing of the latest research. Early access to the findings of two experts (Drs. Richard Horner and Chris May) allowed us to create what became known as the ‘fish pictures’,” wrote Kim Stephens. “These graphics translated the science…and set the stage for British Columbia to move towards sustainable watershed asset management.”

‘FISH PICTURE’ BASED ON WASHINGTON STATE RESEARCH  -Impact of Land Use Decisions on Aquatic Diversity and Abundance (Source: Stormwater Planning: A Guidebook for British Columbia, 2002). Adapted from Washington State research by Drs. Richard Horner & Chris May

‘FISH PICTURE’ BASED ON WASHINGTON STATE RESEARCH -Impact of Land Use Decisions on Aquatic Diversity and Abundance (Source: Stormwater Planning: A Guidebook for British Columbia, 2002). Adapted from research by Drs. Richard Horner & Chris May

Whole System Services

“The water balance of a watershed needs to be protected and managed in the same way that engineered assets and the services they provide are managed. Failure to protect the hydrologic integrity of water balance pathways has financial, level-of-service, and lifecycle impacts, as well as implications for taxpayers,” concluded Kim Stephens.

“A legacy of past community planning and infrastructure servicing practices is the water balance of urban watersheds is out of balance. Asset management is the lens for bringing land development and infrastructure servicing practice into line with science-based understanding.”

To Learn More:

Download Watershed Moment: How British Columbia has incorporated watershed thinking into its asset management to read the complete article published in the September-October issue of Water Canada magazine.

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