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.

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DOWNLOAD BEYOND THE GUIDEBOOK 2022: “Because local governments need real numbers to deliver outcomes, we landed on a concept which we call the Riparian Deficit. This is a measure of land use intrusion into the streamside protection zone,” stated Tim Pringle, Chair of the Ecological Accounting Process (released June 2022)

“Now that we have landed on the Riparian Deficit concept, we are able to reflect on the two issues which provided context for the journey: first, engineering measures are insufficient for stream and riparian protection; and secondly, the link to municipal asset management has not been clear. To reach the destination, we had to address and show how to overcome four challenges: one, a lack of measurable metrics; two, confusion over what is an asset versus a service; three, ignorance about how to quantify the financial value of natural assets with real numbers; and four, numerous one-off projects that fail to build improved asset management practice,” stated Tim Pringle.

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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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ASSET MANAGEMENT FOR SUSTAINABLE DRAINAGE SERVICE DELIVERY: “Vancouver Island University is all-in because EAP, the Ecological Accounting Process, is an idea that can change the game with respect to protection or restoration of riparian integrity along streams. And students are excited to contribute to the change,” stated Graham Sakaki of Vancouver Island University in an article published in the Asset Management BC Newsletter (July 2023)

“The EAP Partnership was set up in a really unique, really valuable and viable way right from the beginning. The Partnership for Water Sustainability made the connections to the three local governments. Vancouver Island University, as a smaller university, is very focused on applied research and community engagement. This is a good fit for the EAP mission. There are lots of partnerships that exist for selfish reasons. But the EAP Partnership is selfless, and from all angles. It is a leap of faith for member local governments. Partnership for Water Sustainability commitment to passing the baton is unwavering,” stated Graham Sakaki.

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EDUCATIONAL PROCESS BRIDGES GAP IN UNDERSTANDING IN ENGINEERING COMMUNITY: “The result is an approach where assumptions and simplifications are understood by both parties and where there is mutual agreement as to their applicability to development site characteristics and the rainwater management objectives,” stated Shelley Ashfield, Director of Operations with the Town of Comox

Comox is a beacon of inspiration for the Town’s water balance approach to land development. Their experience illustrates what it takes to successfully move the land development industry and engineering profession in a new direction. “Opening minds to accept changes in practice is challenging, especially when there is no direct regulatory or prescriptive requirement at the provincial level. Now that the Northeast Comox rainwater management plan is in place, water balance modeling is a requirement, and supporting bylaws help us regulate what developers must do on the ground,” stated Shelley Ashfield.

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ASSET MANAGEMENT BC NEWSLETTER (January 2011):”Actions and targets in Living Water Smart encourage ‘green choices’ that will foster a holistic approach to infrastructure asset management. Protection of a community’s natural resources is emerging as an important piece in Sustainable Service Delivery,” foreshadowed Glen Brown

Glen Brown is the visionary and thought leader who coined the term “sustainable service delivery”. This way of viewing the local government sphere of responsibility changes everything about how local governments do business in an era of rapid change. “Level-of-Service is the integrator for everything that local governments do. What level of service does a community wish to provide, and what level can it afford? Everyone will have to make level-of-service choices. Establish the level-of-service that is sustainable to protect watershed health,” stated Glen Brown.

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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)

“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. For the past generation of practice, then, communities and practitioners should have known what they ought to be doing. And some have made progress. 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,” stated Kim Stephens.

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ASSET MANAGEMENT FOR SUSTAINABLE DRAINAGE SERVICE DELIVERY: “Township staff are working on a long-term Ecological Services Initiative program. The Ecological Accounting Process analysis will be used to establish the baseline funding for payment to farmers,” stated Melisa Gunn, Agricultural Planner with the Township of Langley

“To move the Ecological Services Initiative project forward, the Township of Langley was looking for a process that used real numbers to understand how to develop fair and equitable payments to farmers to enhance areas on their properties. Through the EAP work, the concept of ‘Riparian Deficit’ in the natural commons area highlights the shared responsibility of rural and urban landowners to maintain Bertrand Creek, an important asset in the Township. In the future, we can use EAP to expand the program to other watersheds,” stated Melisa Gunn.

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ASSET MANAGEMENT FOR SUSTAINABLE DRAINAGE SERVICE DELIVERY: “Nature appears more fragmented because we have to slice it into categories and dice those categories into bits before we can value bits of those bits,” stated John Henneberry (1952-2021) Professor of Property Development Studies, University of Sheffield, United Kingdom

John Henneberry’s pioneering work serves as validation of how EAP, the Ecological Accounting Process, looks at streams and water assets as a system. His eclecticism produced real insights into the operation of land and property markets, enabling all involved to see things more clearly and differently. “An industry has developed that values different aspects of nature in different ways. The sum of these parts is far short of the whole and does not capture the interconnectedness and holism of nature,” stated John Henneberry.

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ASSET MANAGEMENT FOR SUSTAINABLE DRAINAGE SERVICE DELIVERY: “The BC Framework points the way to integration of natural systems and climate change thinking into asset management,” stated stated Liam Edwards, a former Executive Director with BC Ministry of Municipal Affairs, in 2015

‘Asset Management for Sustainable Service Delivery: A BC Framework’ makes the link between local government services, the infrastructure that supports the delivery of those services, and watershed health. The BC Framework provides context for EAP, the Ecological Accounting Process. “By accounting for and integrating the services that nature provides, communities can achieve the goal of Sustainable Service Delivery for watershed systems. Resilient cities will be the ones that can absorb water and manage the water cycle as a closed loop,” stated Liam Edwards

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DOWNLOAD BEYOND THE GUIDEBOOK 2022: “Ecological Accounting Process, a BC Strategy for Community Investment in Stream Systems” (released June 2022)

“If we know how to do a much better job of protecting ecological features and stream systems in our communities and on our landscape, then why aren’t we doing a better job? Why are streams still degrading? Why do we still see practices that exacerbate the situation? Why is understanding lacking? How do we change that? An elephant in the room is the hollowing out of government capacity at all levels and the reliance on outside service providers. A lack of understanding of the science of stream system integrity and that a stream is a system, is widespread,” stated Kim Stephens.

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BEYOND THE GUIDEBOOK 2022 / EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: If we know how to do a much better job of protecting ecological features and stream systems in our communities and on our landscape, then why aren’t we doing a better job? Why are streams still degrading?

The process is in motion to operationalize a transition strategy over a 3-year period and initially embed the Ecological Accounting Process (EAP) program in the Mount Arrowsmith Biosphere Region Research Institute (MABRRI). “We believe that incorporating students from Vancouver Island University and other universities will support understanding and experience within municipal governments on the importance of EAP, and simply understanding EAP. Fortunately, most of VIU’s Master of Community Planning, and Master GIS students find themselves working within municipal governments,” stated Graham Sakaki.

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