Rainwater Management

Download British Columbia guidance documents. Learn about the guiding philosophy and tools for implementing ‘sustainable watershed systems, through asset management’. Be inspired by success stories. Understand why it is necessary to manage the complete spectrum of ‘rainfall days’ in a year, preserve or replicate the pathways by which water reaches streams, and so mimic flow-duration distribution. The emphasis herein is on the drainage runoff side of the Water Balance distribution.

Latest Posts

DOWNLOAD: Stormwater Planning: A Guidebook for British Columbia

“Released in 2002, the Guidebook provides a framework for effective rainwater management throughout the province. This tool for local governments presents a methodology for moving from planning to action that focuses on implementing early action where it is most needed,” states Laura Maclean. “The Guidebook approach is designed to eliminate the root cause of negative ecological and property impacts of rainwater runoff by addressing the complete spectrum of rainfall events. The Guidebook approach contrasts with conventional ‘flows-and-pipes’ stormwater management.”

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Water Balance Model – On Tour!

“Have a look at some of the Water Balance Model slideshow presentations that have been made to industry and government groups starting in 2001. This includes some of the early presentations on the Water Balance Methodology that helped pave the way for the paradigm-shift from 'peak flow thinking' to 'volume-based thinking'. The many presentations created awareness and influenced expectations,” stated Ted van der Gulik.

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HARD WORK OF HOPE: “Our rivers are being reborn after a century of decline. This is a defining moment for all the communities that live in our Santa Cruz Watershed,” wrote Lisa Shipek, Executive Director, Watershed Management Group (Tuscon, Arizona)

“It’s not just the Santa Cruz that is being reborn. I have good news to share from other parts of our watershed. The nonprofit I direct, Watershed Management Group, has been monitoring creek flows across the Tucson basin since 2017,” stated Lisa Shipek. “Having flow in the Santa Cruz River downtown provides a daily visual of what a desert river looks like, which will help open the hearts and minds of the greater community to what is possible. We should rejoice alongside the Tohono O’Odham Nation and work with it to restore flow to our rivers and quicken our pace towards a more resilient future.”

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THE STORM OF THE CENTURY COULD SOON HAPPEN EVERY YEAR: “The timescale [for major storms] is changing dramatically, and may become irrelevant in categorizing storms,” says Mandy Ikert, Director, Water and Adaptation Initiative – C40

A UN report warns extreme weather events that historically happened about once in 100 years could hit coastal cities yearly by 2050. Cities need to prepare now. “This is a wake-up call that we still need to do more to mitigate as much [climate impact] as possible. We’re not going back to normal—whatever normal once was,” stated Mandy Ikert. She says reports like this one are important: They help rally support from larger nations and financial institutions for protecting all cities from the effects of climate change.

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HOW TREES COULD SAVE THE CLIMATE: “Our study shows clearly that forest restoration is the best climate change solution available today, and it provides hard evidence to justify the investment,” stated Professor Thomas Crowther, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (July 2019)

Around 0.9 billion hectares of land worldwide would be suitable for reforestation, which could ultimately capture two thirds of human-made carbon emissions. This would be the most effective method to combat climate change. “We all knew that restoring forests could play a part in tackling climate change, but we didn’t really know how big the impact would be. But we must act quickly, as new forests will take decades to mature and achieve their full potential as a source of natural carbon storage,” stated Thomas Crowther.

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WHOLE-SYSTEM, WATER BALANCE TRAINING FOR ENGINEERS: “The Town’s experience is that the weak link in drainage analyses is always the assumptions,” stated Shelley Ashfield, Municipal Engineer, when she explained why the Town of Comox took on responsibility for an educational process to bridge a gap in practitioner understanding

How water gets to a stream, and how long it takes, is not well understood among land and drainage practitioners. “A lack of explicit identification and justification of the assumptions and simplifications made in the analysis of stormwater impacts has resulted in stormwater systems that address hypothetical as opposed to actual site characteristics and development impacts,” stated Shelley Ashfield. “Learning from this experience, the Town now requires that assumptions be stated and explained. We are saying WHAT is your assumption, and WHY.”

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WATERSHED CASE PROFILE SERIES: “Town of Comox – A ‘Beacon of Hope’ for Citizen Science in Action & Reconnecting Hydrology and Ecology through the Water Balance Approach to Land Development” (released September 2019)

“Utilities, roads, parks and recreation take up the bulk of a municipal budget. Once we made the mental transition to view ecological services as core municipal services, and looked at the municipal budget differently, we then asked ourselves: how can we do things better? We stopped work on the rainwater management plan and changed the plan focus to the Package of Ecological Services – how can we get the best package for them? All plan elements were redesigned; and residential density was concentrated to maximize public access,” stated Marvin Kamenz.

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IMPROVE WHERE WE LIVE: Ecological Accounting Process and Water Balance Methodology – the twin pillars of a whole-system, water balance vision for restorative land development in British Columbia

“The vision for EAP, the Ecological Accounting Process, is that it would help local governments progress along the Asset Management Continuum for Sustainable Service Delivery. Once a life-cycle approach is standard practice, the next logical step is to integrate ecological services from natural systems into asset management,” stated Tim Pringle. “The principal focus of EAP is on the investment of resources already made by many stakeholders, as well as their aspirations concerning prevention of degradation to and work on enhancement of ecological services in the creekshed.”

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DESIGN WITH NATURE / IMPROVE WHERE WE LIVE: Hubristic and techno-utopian, 50 years ago Ian McHarg’s emphasis in his landmark book on creating a rational, systematized design process expanded the fields of landscape architecture and environmental planning, pulling practitioners out of gardens and small parks and into territorial-scale design

Alongside Rachel Carson’s classic Silent Spring, Design With Nature helped activists translate the energy of the 1960s into a string political victories in the 1970s, including: the National Environmental Policy Act (1970), the Clean Water Act (1972), the Endangered Species Act (1973), and the establishment of the Environmental Protection Agency and the White House Council on Environmental Quality (1970). Much of that regulatory regime remains intact today, indispensable to the broader aims of environmental stewardship and climate action.

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IMPROVE WHERE WE LIVE: “Since the problem of environmental generation amnesia has its genesis in childhood, I suggest that childhood is a good place to start solving the problem,” says Peter Kahn, Professor of Psychology, University of Washington

While communities cannot restore lost diversity, they can halt its decline and consciously direct efforts into bending the trend-line in an upward direction. First, however, they must understand the psychology of why we unwittingly allow environmental degradation. “People take the natural environment they encounter during childhood as the norm against which they measure environmental degradation later in their life. Each generation takes that degraded condition as the non-degraded condition, as the normal experience,” explains Peter Kahn. He describes this phenomenon as ‘environmental generational amnesia’.

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IMPROVE WHERE WE LIVE THROUGH RESTORATIVE DEVELOPMENT: “In the 1980s, the lack of science was a real issue. Science is no longer the issue. We have enough science to know what needs to be done to reconnect hydrology and ecology,” stated Bill Derry in his keynote address at the Parksville 2019 Symposium

Bill Derry provided a critically important historical perspective when he explained the origins of the science-based approach to understanding how ‘changes in hydrology’impact on stream stability and health in the urban environment. An early pioneer in an emerging practice circa 1990, Bill Derry chaired the local government committee that framed eight key questions. These then defined areas of research at the University of Washington. “Context is everything. Four decades ago, understanding was scant,” stated Bill Derry. A program goal for Parksville 2019 was to bring to life the phrase “reconnect hydrology and ecology”.

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YOUTUBE VIDEO ABOUT VANCOUVER’S HIDDEN STREAMS: “In the future I think we’ll be seeing more and more city planners, engineers and architects work with and learn from nature instead of burying it underground,” stated Uytae Lee, CBC Vancouver video columnist (April 2019)

The industrialization of Vancouver was rapid, and soon the creeks that connected land-to-ocean were buried. “Streams such as Still Creek and others like it were once considered a nuisance, They would often get in the way of road construction or buildings. They were also these dumping grounds for garbage, so there was really this incentive to bury them and that’s kind of just what happened,” stated Uytae Lee. “We’re sort of finally realizing that nature has a lot more value than we often give it credit for.”

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