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: 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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IMPLEMENTATION OF NATURE-BASED SOLUTIONS FOR CAPTURING RAIN WHERE IT FALLS: “There are lots of great efforts being made (in the Lower Mainland region of British Columbia). But there’s a big problem. They’re not being uniformly made,” stated Andrea McDonald, author of Creating Safe Cities for Salmon (May 2021)

“The study showcases the many efforts being made across the region to develop cities more sustainably with wild salmon populations in mind. However, my research also demonstrates how the implementation of these nature-based solutions to protect local salmon populations has been patchy, challenging, and lengthy due to inadequate statutory foundations and enforcement, lack of public support and understanding, and limited educational opportunities and training programs,” stated Andrea McDonald.

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CITY OF VANCOUVER’S RAIN CITY STRATEGY: “We know how to design it (green infrastructure). What we’re aimed at now is mainstreaming it,” stated Melina Scholefield, the City of Vancouver’s manager of green infrastructure implementation

“Though the City of Vancouver has an over 20-year history installing green infrastructure, until 2018, it was rarely done systematically and did not use geotechnical studies to understand how fast water could penetrate the ground underfoot. The good news is we get to learn from our peers. We get to leapfrog a bit. Some of the biggest hurdles have been simple regulations grandfathered in from another era. Meanwhile, direction from Metro Vancouver, and ultimately the province, is up in the air as the regional body updates its Regional Liquid Waste Management Plan,” said Melina Scholefield.

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APPLICATION OF ECOLOGICAL ACCOUNTING PROCESS (EAP) TO MILLSTONE RIVER IN NANAIMO REGION: “Accounting for our region’s natural assets is part of responsible asset management that includes ecological systems as well as physical infrastructure. This report has given the RDN, as well as the City of Nanaimo, further insight as we develop our existing framework for the protection and enhancement of our important natural features in our communities, including stream corridors,” stated Chair Tyler Brown when he commented on how the EAP outcomes would inform the RDN’s Corporate Asset Management Planning (April 2021)

The Millstone project provided the RDN, the City of Nanaimo and local stewardship group Island Waters Fly Fishers with the opportunity to get a real measure that accounts for the value and worth of the Millstone River stream corridor in asset management planning. The Millstone River EAP project has provided the RDN with a path forward so that it could account for and operationalize maintenance and management of stream corridor systems across the region. This would be done under the umbrella of its Corporate Asset Management Plan. This would be a BC-first.

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BE GUIDED BY A VISION FOR INTER-GENERATIONAL COLLABORATION: “Looking through an inter-generational lens, the term permaculture is what resonates with me. It has three guiding principles. The first is care of land. It is foundational because the other two build on it. The second principle is care of people, and the third is care of the process,” stated Director Ben Geselbracht, Regional District of Nanaimo

“When I think about sustaining the watershed protection legacy from one Board to the next, it is about viewing it within a larger vision for creating sustainable human settlement. When our perspective is the watershed, water is fundamentally what keeps everything moving. The watershed is the foundational scale of consideration, and therefore we must base our design of human settlements upon it. A long-term and shared community vision is necessary to integrate all the care of land considerations such that Design With Nature is on the tip of everyone’s tongue,” stated Ben Geselbracht.

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WATERSHED CASE PROFILE SERIES: “Drinking Water & Watershed Protection in the Nanaimo Region – Right People in Right Place at Right Time, Over Time” (released April 2021)

“The work of the Drinking Water and Watershed Protection program (DWWP) is strategic. It is community based, and makes links interdepartmentally and with external agencies. And that in itself is the super power of what we do. It does not fit into a box of what a usual local government service is or does. The objective and mission of the DWWP program has always been about connecting land and water management. But the RDN couldn’t just leap straight there. We first had to build partnerships, trust, datasets and knowledge. We had to test ideas, learn, earn credibility, and deepen relationships across jurisdictions,” stated Julie Pisani

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A PLAN FOR RAINY DAYS: “An exacting attention to natural patterns was a core innovation of the Fused Grid and Water Balance approaches,” stated Fanis Grammenos, former Senior Researcher with the Canada Mortgage & Housing Corporation, and an urban sustainability thinker

“In 2004, the City of Stratford in Ontario approved a secondary plan for a future city expansion based on an evaluation of three plans, one of which was the Fused Grid. In 2006, CMHC initiated a supplementary case study to assess the potential for reducing or eliminating rainwater runoff from the development area,” reports Fanis Grammenos. “The question for this analysis was to assess to what extent street layout, amount and distribution of open space, and building form affect the post-development runoff resulting from the impermeable surfaces that urban development creates.”

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FLASHBACK TO 2014: “Coquitlam’s story demonstrates, on a local level, how attitudes and approaches in the Metro Vancouver region have evolved with watershed management and recognition of rainwater as a resource,” stated Melony Burton, co-author of Creating the Future in Coquitlam, second in the Watershed Case Profile Series that features communities leading by example in British Columbia

“Going back to the 1990s, and the start of watershed-based planning approaches, Coquitlam has been involved in pilot projects that put these theories to the test. Since then they have continued to take concepts introduced regionally, and implement them incrementally, each effort building on the successes or lessons of the last. In the process, Coquitlam learned by doing. Changing the way we do things means taking on new challenges and not always getting it entirely right the first time. But all attempts generally have some salvageable elements to move forward on,” stated Melony Burton.

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FLASHBACK TO 2009: “Re-focus Integrated Stormwater Management Plans on on watershed targets and outcomes so that there are clear linkages with the land use planning and development approval process; move beyond pilot projects to a watershed-based approach to achieving performance targets for rainwater management and green infrastructure” – Metro Vancouver Reference Panel recommendation

Metro Vancouver’s Integrated Plan established the framework for moving beyond regulatory compliance to transitioning Metro Vancouver to an approach that would achieve the Sustainable Region Vision. “Think about it – the Reference Panel has influenced the waste committee, the finance committee and the way we make decisions overall. It is great. The community benefits when there is collaboration and a true partnership between local government staff and community members in a working group,” stated (former) West Vancouver Mayor Pam Goldsmith-Jones.

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ASSET MANAGEMENT BC NEWSLETTER (February 2021): “Restoring land drainage and stream corridor system integrity for a creekshed would require looking beyond the stream corridor to the surrounding landscape – that is, reconnect hydrology and stream ecology by design,” stated Kim Stephens, Executive Director, Partnership for Water Sustainability in BC

“EAP, the Ecological Accounting Process, focuses on drainage and the condition and/or integrity of stream corridors. Both natural and constructed assets need to be addressed in the drainage context. Both are systems and therefore require similar M&M strategies. Drainage infrastructure, or lack thereof, is typically an unfunded liability that grows over time. It is the elephant in the room. EAP supports local governments intending to adopt a life-cycle approach to M&M of natural assets much as it would apply to constructed assets,” stated Kim Stephens.

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RECONNECTING HYDROLOGY & STREAM ECOLOGY IN BRITISH COLUMBIA: Historical context for an ecosystem-based approach to managing land and water in the urban environment – the coming together of a group of change agents in 1997 set in motion a chain of outcomes

The late Erik Karlsen conceived and championed the idea of a Watershed/Landscaped-Based Approach to Community Planning. His last assignment while in government was to collaborate with a Metro Vancouver interdisciplinary working group to produce the conceptual framework for the approach. The underpinning premise is that resource, land use and community design decisions will be made with an eye towards their potential impact on the watershed. is a prime application of the ‘watershed/landscape-based’ approach.

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