ASSET MANAGEMENT FOR SUSTAINABLE DRAINAGE SERVICE DELIVERY: “In the big picture, the last two decades have been characterized by an inability to act on the science. The consequence is a growing Riparian Deficit,” wrote Kim Stephens in an article published in the Asset Management BC Newsletter (October 2022)

Note to Reader:

The Fall 2022 issue of the Asset Management BC Newsletter includes an article by Tim Pringle and Kim Stephens about EAP, the Ecological Accounting Process. Previously published in the Summer 2022 issue, Asset Management BC decided to re-publish the article prominently as the lead article in the Fall 2022 issue. This decisive action was in recognition of the vital  importance to inform the ongoing local government conversation about “natural asset management”.

Recognize there is an elephant in the room

“In the 1990s, seminal research at the University of Washington on the science of land use changes produced a road map for protection of stream system integrity,” stated Kim Stephens, Executive Director, Partnership for Water Sustainability in British Columbia.

“For the past generation of practice, then, communities and practitioners should have known what they ought to be doing. And some have made progress. But, in the big picture, the last two decades have been characterized by an inability to act on the science. The consequence is a growing Riparian Deficit which is an unfunded liability.”

“Land use realities – master drainage planning, integrated stormwater planning, development pressures, etc. – push local government to pay lip-service to the role of the streamside protection zone.  There is scant understanding of a stream system context, the value of water balance pathways, the condition of native vegetation and woodlands cover, and the need for restoration.”

Why aren’t these factors considered and given equal weight to engineering considerations?

“An elephant in the room is the hollowing out of government capacity at all levels and the reliance on outside service providers,” continues Tim Pringle, a founding director of the Partnership, and Chair of the EAP Initiative.

“The question is, how does one create a situation where the environmental perspective is on an equal footing with the engineering and accounting perspectives? Only then can there be a balanced and productive conversation about annual budgets for maintenance and management (M&M) of assets, whether those are constructed assets or the natural component of the Drainage Service.”

“The growing cost due to neglect of the Drainage Service, combined with the urgency of the drainage liability issue, is the driver for linking municipal infrastructure asset management and stream health as cause-and-effect.”


To read the complete article, download a copy of How much should local governments spend each year to reduce the Riparian Deficit?

After that, download and read the Synthesis Report on the Ecological Accounting Process, a BC Strategy for Community Investment in Stream Systems, the 4th in the Beyond the Guidebook Series published by the Partnership for Water Sustainability in BC.