Sustainable Watershed Systems: "What happens on the land matters. Restore the water balance in urban areas," states Kim Stephens in guest lecture for Capilano University's Local Government Administration Certificate Program (Nov 2016)
Note to Reader:
Since 2001 Todd Pugh has served as the Executive Director of CivicInfo BC, a not-for-profit information service for BC local governments. In 2007, he joined Capilano’s Local Government Administration Certificate program as a sessional instructor. The program has four core courses: Administration, Services, Finance, and Law. Todd is responsible for three of these courses when they are held on Vancouver Island.
In Fall 2016, Todd Pugh taught the course titled Local Government Services in BC, held in Parksville on Vancouver Island. He invited Kim Stephens, Executive Director of the Partnership for Water Sustainability in BC, to deliver a guest lecture that would inform participants about future directions in the water service sector from the local government perspective.
What Happens on the Land Matters
“For years, I have been teaching in Capilano University’s local government administration program,” stated Todd Pugh. “The ‘students’ are all municipal professionals, and there are 30 people in the class, representing some 17 local governments.”
“Water sustainability is a huge issue in a lot of the communities where these individuals work. And it occurred to me that Kim Stephens may know a thing or two – or, more likely, a million things or two – about that particular subject. So I asked him whether he would be interested and would it be possible for him come out to my class in Parksville to deliver a talk and presentation to my class. Kim accepted my invitation without hesitation.”
“Kim was able to communicate concepts in a way that made sense to the class. They understood him perfectly. It is such a mix of people – there were some who would have liked to hear more about the science behind what he presented, and for others it was more science than they’ve experienced since elementary school. So on the whole, I think he hit the right mix.”
Restore the Water Balance in Urban Areas!
“Todd’s invitation provided me with a focus group opportunity,” noted Kim Stephens. “While it was a local government audience, it was not my usual audience of engineers, planners and environmental protection officers. The class represented a diversity of roles within a local government – including functions such as municipal clerk, recreation coordinator, bylaw enforcement, transportation and civic properties.”
“In other words, water resource management would not normally be top of mind for many of these individuals.”
“Because one of my themes is the need for everyone in local government to embrace shared responsibility if communities are to achieve water resiliency, I was curious as to what would catch their attention and/or stick with them. So I knew I had to communicate concepts and explain things in a way that made sense to everyone in the room.”
“My over-aching message was that a legacy of past community planning and infrastructure service practices is that the natural water balance of watersheds is out of balance. This means that communities must implement practices that restore the hydrologic integrity of watersheds.”
“A bottom-up, or local, approach should integrate sites, people, watershed, stream and groundwater aquifer as a whole system. It is necessary to mimic the water balance to reduce risk and improve watershed health. In addition, and by mimicking the water balance, communities would comply with regulatory requirements.”
Sustainable Watershed Systems,
through Asset Management
“The role of local government is to provide services. So I introduced the class to the vision for Sustainable Service Delivery, explained why we are applying it watersheds as well as traditional engineered infrastructure, and how Sustainable Watershed Systems would be achieved through asset management.”
“In particular, I emphasized.that the compliance requirements for provincial grant programs provide the financial incentive for integration of ‘watershed systems thinking’ into asset management.”
Sustainable Watershed Systems, through Asset Management describes a “whole system-water balance” approach to community development and infrastructure servicing. Branding commenced with release of Beyond the Guidebook 2015 in November 2015.
To Learn More:
Download What Happens on the Land Matters: Restore the Water Balance in Urban Areas! to view a PDF copy of the complete PowerPoint presentation by Kim Stephens in Parksville on November 18, 2016.
Beyond the Guidebook 2015: Moving Towards “Sustainable Watershed Systems, through Asset Management is the third in a series of guidance documents released over the past decade. The series builds on Stormwater Planning: A Guidebook for British Columbia, released in 2002.
Sustainable Watershed Systems: Primer on Application of Ecosystem-based Understanding in the Georgia Basin is written in a magazine-style to help multiple audiences – whether elected, administrative, technical or stewardship – ask the right questions and ensure that “science-based understanding” is applied properly and effectively to implement land development practices that restore the water balance (hydrologic integrity) of watersheds.