The Regional District of Nanaimo (RDN) is recognized for the leadership of its Drinking Water & Watershed Program. Success is helping to foster a new ‘land ethic’ among land and water practitioners in the region. Bill Veenhof (photo), RDN Chair, expressed his appreciation to Kim Stephens (Partnership for Water Sustainability in BC) for providing the RDN Board with an understanding that the RDN program is helping other regions overcome the disconnect between information and implementation.
British Columbia Guidance Documents
The Cowichan region is an incubator for ‘watershed systems thinking’ and application of Water Balance tools. A key message is that there are three pathways by which rainwater makes its way to a stream. According to Mary Marcotte, Chair of the Regional Services Committee, the Board learned that each pathway is an infrastructure asset. And if each pathway is an asset, then each provides a Water Balance service, she noted.
2016 BCIT Guest Lecture Series – introduced a new generation of graduating civil engineers to the "Beyond the Guidebook Continuum"
“The ‘salmon crisis’ throughout the 1990s decade galvanized awareness in BC. In response, governments recognized the need to restore and protect watershed and stream health. This set in motion a chain of actions and events. The ripple effects are reverberating through time,” states Kim Stephens. “We all learn from stories, and the most compelling ones are based on the experience of those who are leading their communities. Beyond the Guidebook 2015 showcases five ‘regional stories’.”
Communities can no longer count on a predictable snowpack and reliable precipitation to maintain a healthy water balance in their watersheds. It has been difficult even for experts to grasp the extent of what the loss of relative hydrological stability means. “When EMA hosted a session about the 2015 drought, Kim Stephens explained what needs to be done to restore the water balance in urban areas,” stated Stephanie Voysey, EMA Vice-President (Education).
Beyond the Guidebook 2015: Environment Deputy Minister lauds work of the Partnership for Water Sustainability in BC
“Beyond the Guidebook 2015 is a milestone accomplishment, and was made possible with provincial funding assistance,” wrote Wes Shoemaker. “The ministry acknowledges that the Partnership is also adding depth to the Guidebook through the Beyond the Guidebook Report Series and the Beyond the Guidebook Primer Series. The work of the Partnership is supporting the Province’s Living Water Smart vision and Green Communities initiative.”
“The presentation by Kim Stephens gave further insight into how thinking has evolved regarding stormwater management in our region and elsewhere. His discussion of Voodoo Hydrology reinforced the importance of questioning everything, a habit I try to encourage in my students,” stated Laith Furatian. The term was coined by Andy Reese, an American engineer and writer, in 2006 to describe the mis-application of science.
“It is evident that there are many champions in local government; and it is important that we recognize and celebrate what they are doing. This is all part of creating our future. And when we ask ‘what will this community look like in 50 years’, we can point to the green infrastructure examples and then we will know what it will look like in 50 years,” stated Mayor Lois Jackson.
Structured in four parts, ‘Beyond the Guidebook 2015’ meets the information needs of different audiences. “Local government case study experience provides guidance for a collaborative approach to developing integrated solutions that are effective and affordable, create a legacy, and achieve three cascading objectives for watershed health, resilient rainwater management and sustainable service delivery,” states Peter Law.
Watershed Health, Rainwater Management and Sustainable Service Delivery are related priorities for communities on the east coast of Vancouver Island and in the Metro Vancouver region. “Inter-regional sharing, collaboration, alignment and consistency will accelerate effective implementation of watershed protection objectives within each regional district. The regions are linked by common interests, but are not dependent on each other,” stated Edwin Grieve, former Chair of the Comox Valley Regional District.
The Province has many different programs that provide local governments with guidance to achieve their community goals. “Develop with Care 2014, for example, brings together information and guidance from several provincial ministries. The document takes an integrative and collaborative approach so that the information and guidance is all in one place,” states Maggie Henigman, Ministry of Forests, Land and Natural Resource Operations.