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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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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BEYOND THE GUIDEBOOK 2022 / PART A: “John Henneberry’s pioneering work in the United Kingdom serves as validation of how EAP 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,” stated Tim Pringle, Chair of the Ecological Accounting Process initiative, a BC strategy for community investment in stream systems

John Henneberry was a source of inspiration to Tim Pringle during the early years of the Ecological Accounting Process program. John’s pioneering work in the United Kingdom validated the whole-system philosophy that guides use of EAP. His interests lay at the interface between planning and property; and focused on the use of economic instruments in planning and reproduction of the urban built environment. “Our view of nature is biased to those aspects of it that can be measured and particularly to those that can be valued,” stated John Henneberry.

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BEYOND THE GUIDEBOOK 2022 / PART B: “We eventually concluded that operationalizing asset management would involve four separate, interconnected initiatives that would be the pathway for our journey toward Sustainable Service Delivery. They coalesced into what we locally refer to as The 4C’s – Collaboration, Capacity, Culture, and Council,” stated David Allen, retired Chief Administrative Officer, City of Courtenay

Sustainable service delivery is how communities can bridge the gap, or disconnect, between short-term and long-term thinking. Sustainable service delivery occurs alongside associated evolution in community thinking. Incremental in nature, it is a continuous quality-improvement process. “It is all about building trust between Council and staff, keeping in mind what can realistically be accomplished by an organization, and being clear about the limitations of the current state-of-practice and knowledge and our ability to explain what the numbers mean in that context,” stated David Allen.

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BEYOND THE GUIDEBOOK 2022 / PART C: “The Ecological Accounting Process is a powerful communication tool to elevate the importance of local policies and investment to protect and restore riparian areas for the benefit of our communities,” stated Julie Pisani, Program Coordinator for the Nanaimo region’s Drinking Water & Watershed Protection Program

“In the process of completing the Ecological Accounting Process for the Millstone River, municipal and regional interests were brought together with community stewardship sector perspectives and academic research capabilities. Everyone became versed in the common language of natural assets and can now bring that forward in the ongoing collaborative work ahead. Not only were we able to assign a proxy value to the riparian corridor land area, but we also connected this to an understanding of the integrity of its current condition — and compared a riparian deficit to an infrastructure deficit / liability,” stated Julie Pisani.

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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)

“The Partnership’s efforts to bring together five regional district to implement the Georgia Basin Inter-Regional Educational Initiative has been particularly successful. This program is effectively demonstrating how to align regional and local actions with the provincial policy, program and regulatory framework. The Ministry of Environment appreciates that the Partnership for Water Sustainability embraces shared responsibility for ‘Stormwater Planning: A Guidebook for British Columbia’ and is also adding depth to the Guidebook through the Beyond the Guidebook Series,” wrote Wes Shoemaker.

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BEYOND THE GUIDEBOOK 2022 / PART E: “Future research and planning should be informed by a new broad definition of green infrastructure, one that focuses on the relations between ecological and built infrastructure systems to facilitate the production of social benefits,” stated Zbigniew Grabowski, Socio-Ecologist with the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies, New York

“We had this moment of realization about the diversity of plans when it clicked in our minds about analyzing all the plans in terms of three big buckets: something that is very stormwater-focused, something that is very land-focused, and something that is trying to integrate the two. In the process, we started to uncover this grain of systems thinking within green infrastructure planning. Maybe, if we just crystalize that nugget of an idea even more, it will catalyze a more structured way of thinking about these things in US urban planning and beyond,” stated Dr. Zbigniew Grabowski.

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BEYOND THE GUIDEBOOK 2022 / FINANCIAL CASE FOR STREAMS: “EAP is remarkable in its simplicity and is pragmatic. EAP starts with an understanding of the parcel because that is how communities regulate and plan land use. That is what everyone must get their heads around,” stated Tim Pringle, EAP Chair (June 2022)

“The vision for EAP set the challenge: develop a practical methodology, one that would be relevant to local government managers and the community, for determining the monetary value of drainage infrastructure and other services drawn (or adapted) to some degree from ecosystems. Initially, we saw EAP as a tool – that is, the EA Protocol – that would help practitioners calculate the opportunity cost of balancing ecological services with drainage infrastructure. However, the first demonstration applications revealed that the term EA Process more accurately describes the challenge of working with multiple intervenors,” stated Tim Pringle.

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STORY BEHIND THE STORY OF ‘STORMWATER PLANNING, A GUIDEBOOK FOR BRITISH COLUMBIA’ (2002): “Key was the collaboration happening within the Ministry of Environment. I had working relationships with other groups. We were talking on an ongoing basis about innovation and how we could provide better levels of protection. The Guidebook is an example of that collaboration,” stated Peter Law, Chair of the former Guidebook Steering Committee, on the 20th anniversary of Guidebook publication (June 2022)

“The Water Balance Methodology gave communities a path forward to tackle changes in watershed hydrology at the source. When the Guidebook was released, the capability to set targets gave the steering committee the confidence to be bold and state: land development and watershed protection can be compatible. In 2002, this statement represented a radical shift in thinking. It became known as ‘the Guidebook premise’. We were hopeful that all the players would embrace shared responsibility and communities would move from stopgap remediation to long-term restoration of properly functioning streams. We are not there yet,” stated Peter Law.

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