BEYOND THE GUIDEBOOK 2022 / PART D: “Moving beyond traditional engineered infrastructure asset management to also account for nature’s services will help influence ‘standards of practice’ and represent a leading-edge evolution in how infrastructure is planned, financed, implemented and maintained in BC,” wrote Wes Shoemaker, former Deputy Minister, in a letter to the Partnership (February 2016)

Note to Reader:

In June 2022, the Partnership for Water Sustainability released the 4th in the Beyond the Guidebook Series. Titled Synthesis Report on the Ecological Accounting Process, a BC Strategy for Community Investment in Stream Systems, it showcases collaboration in action. EAP methodology and metrics allow local governments to make a convincing financial case for annual investment in stream systems to reduce the Riparian Deficit.

DOWNLOAD A COPY OF Part D – Hydrology is the Engine that Powers Ecological Services. It provides the reader with an elementary understanding of core hydrology concepts.

Part D is structured in three sections: 1) Story Behind the Story of the Water Balance Pillar; 2) Water Balance Accounting Pillar Addresses  “Changes in Hydrology”; and 3)Reconnect Hydrology and Stream Ecology by Design, and Restore Stream Integrity.

What Happens on the Land Does Matter!

“EAP, the Ecological Accounting Process, is the culmination of a 25-year journey. This began with seminal research by Chris May, Richard Horner, and others at the University of Washington in the 1990s. They correlated land use changes with the impacts on stream condition, identified four limiting factors, and ranked them in order of consequence from an ecological perspective,” stated Kim Stephens, Partnership Executive Director.

“The order of priority recognizes that the top two consequences of changes in land use are: 1) short-circuiting of water balance pathways, and 2) loss of riparian integrity. The ‘twin pillars’ of stream system integrity build on this science-based understanding. The Water Balance Accounting pillar addresses ‘changes in hydrology’ on the land draining to the stream. The Ecological Accounting pillar addresses ‘loss of riparian integrity’ within a stream corridor.”

“Linkage of the two pillars would be the over-arching goal of a Sustainable Funding Plan for the Drainage Service. Because it determines eligibility for senior government grants, alignment with Asset Management for Sustainable Service Delivery: A BC Framework provides local governments with the incentive to go down this path.”

Mimic the natural Water Balance

“Richard Horner and Chris May had a clear message for land use and drainage practitioners: changes in hydrology, not water quality, must be the primary focus of their efforts. If one gets the hydrology right, water quality typically follows takes care of itself in a residential development,” continued Kim Stephens.

“Unless and until land development practices mimic the natural water balance, communities cannot expect to restore the biological communities within streams. Simply put, hydrology hits first and hardest – one could pour an equivalent volume of distilled water into a stream, and the consequences for stream health would be the same as if it was urban runoff,” emphasized Richard Horner in an interview.

Work at Multiple Scales

“Retrofiting at multiple scales and multiple levels is really key. But, so many people in local government are just too busy these days to even contemplate what needs to be done to repair and restore at multiple scales and levels. As a result, and especially in the big urban cities, it is just too difficult for local government staff to work concurrently at multiple scales,” stated Chris May.

To Learn More:

To read the complete Synthesis Report, download a copy of Ecological Accounting Process, A B.C. Strategy for Community Investment in Stream Systems (2022) .

The “story of EAP” is told in six parts. To download them individually, click on the links:

Financial Case for the Stream – Executive Summary

Part A – Synopsis for the Busy Reader

Part B – Story Behind the Story of Sustainable Drainage Service Delivery

Part C – Case Study Building Blocks Process

Part D – Hydrology is the Engine that Powers Ecological Services

Part E – A Stream is a Land Use