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Look At Rainfall Differently

FLASHBACK TO 2016: “By contrasting two watersheds, we were aiming to demonstrate that there is still time to get it right on the less developed watershed,” said Nancy Gothard, City of Courtenay Environmental Planner


We all learn from stories and the most compelling ones are based on the experiences of those who are leading in their communities. Local government champions on the east coast of Vancouver Island are sharing and learning from each other through inter-regional collaboration. “We wanted to tell a story of the continuum of watershed health, and for people to understand the role that riparian cover plays,” stated Nancy Gothard.

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Embracing Shared Responsibility & Leading Change on Vancouver Island: “A paramount goal is to ‘get it right’ in the stream channel,” reports Peter Law, Vice-President, Mid Vancouver Island Enhancement Society


“MVIHES has morphed from ‘Stewards of the Englishman River Recovery Plan’ to ‘Stewards of the Watershed’. The Shelly Creek Plan is a provincial precedent. Community-driven action can restore watershed hydrology, prevent erosion and ensure fish survival,” stated Peter Law. “The challenge for MVIHES is to facilitate the community’s journey from awareness to action, expressed as follows: Once a community as a whole acknowledges that there is a problem, and also understands why there is a problem, what will the community do about it?”

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FLASHBACK TO 2015: Release of “Beyond the Guidebook 2015” drew attention to what Watershed Health issue means in practice and provincial game-changers that enable local government action in British Columbia


In British Columbia, three landmark provincial initiatives came to fruition in 2014. All embody the enabling philosophy. “Looking into the future, collaboratively developed Water Sustainability Plans can integrate water and land use planning and can be combined with other local, regional or provincial planning processes to address water-related issues. “The scale and scope of each plan – and the process used to develop it – would be unique, and would reflect the needs and interests of the watersheds affected,” states Jennifer Vigano.

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Why it is Necessary to Understand Relevance and Value of the Water Balance Methodology: "Watershed objectives start with the stream and end with the stream – because protection of streams and fish has become an important public expectation,” says Jim Dumont, the Partnership for Water Sustainability’s Engineering Applications Authority


“The Water Balance Methodology is based upon watershed and stream function and operation. Understanding how precipitation makes its way to the stream allow us to assess how a watershed and stream operates and to analytically demonstrate impacts of development and the effectiveness of any mitigation works,” states Jim Dumont. “The Methodology provides solutions with verifiable results and where mitigation systems optimized for cost and function.”

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Voodoo Hydrology Annual Webinar Series (December 2017): Andy Reese explains the pitfalls of urban hydrology methods


Andy Reese coined the term Voodoo Hydrology in 2006. “As a stormwater community, we have for years relied upon common urban stormwater hydrologic design methodologies and trusted their results. But, should we? We must understand that urban hydrology, including newer Green Infrastructure sizing approaches, as commonly practiced, is an inexact science where we are simply trying to get close to the right answer,” states Andy Reese.

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GREEN INFRASTRUCTURE INNOVATION IN BRITISH COLUMBIA: As understanding has grown, the Water Balance Methodology has evolved; and this is reflected in the successive rainwater management plans for the Routley, Yorkson and Northeast Gordon neighbourhoods in the Township of Langley


A decade ago, three neighbourhood developments in Langley established successive provincial precedents that informed the evolution of the Water Balance Methodology. “Langley is unique in that DFO approved the water balance strategy at a neighbourhood scale for each of Routley, Yorkson and Northeast Gordon,” stated Jim Dumont. “DFO approval meant that design standards were applied uniformly across each neighbourhood. This was a time-saver for everyone. The approach resulted in consistency of implementation.”

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IMPLEMENTATION OF WHOLE-SYSTEM, WATER BALANCE APPROACH: “The challenge is to move from stop-gap remediation of in-stream problems to long-term restoration of a properly functioning watershed,” stated Peter Law, Vice-President of the Mid Vancouver Habitat Enhancement Society


“By sharing the story of Shelly Creek, we want readers to recognize that erosion is a common issue impacting salmon and trout habitats in small streams, draining into the Salish Sea,” states Peter Law. “Existing standards of practice have resulted in negative impacts. Continuing to use those standards will result in further environmental degradation of the watershed and loss of stream productivity. Building support for action starts with community engagement.”

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Governments of Canada and British Columbia fund water balance tools and resources for climate adaptation action: “Real-world success would be defined as reduced stream erosion during wet weather, and sustained ‘environmental flows’ during dry weather,” stated Jim Dumont


Flood, drought, fire, wind and cold – because extreme events are becoming the norm…..As communities face the increasing impacts of climate change, there is an unfunded liability – the cost to restore watershed hydrology and water resilience in the built environment. “The Partnership for Water Sustainability is evolving, online tools that support implementation of the whole-system, water balance approach. British Columbia, Washington State and California are leaders. We are moving forward in parallel on this journey,” states Jim Dumont.

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BLUEPRINT COLUMBUS – Clean Streams, Strong Neighborhoods: "One of the most exciting aspects to Blueprint is its creativity. Blueprint attacks the root problem by addressing the rain water that is entering the sewer system," stated Columbus Mayor Michael B. Coleman


“The City was concerned that building 28 miles of tunnels to eliminate Sanitary Sewer Overflows (SSOs) was of questionable value, because SSOs are such a small volume of overflows compared to Combined Sewer Overflows (CSOs). The proposed tunnels would cost approximately $2 billion and only be used 4 or 5 times a year,” stated Mayor Michael Coleman. “Blueprint Columbus will be significantly better for the environment.”

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FLASHBACK TO 2012: "A key challenge has been translating global climate science to local land-use decisions. The new Climate Change Module in the Water Balance Model helps overcome this obstacle,” stated Chris Jensen, Senior Policy Analyst, Government of British Columbia


“If mitigation is about CARBON, then adaptation is about WATER. Hence, being able to quickly and effectively model how the ‘water balance’ may change over time is a critical input to local government decision processes,” stated Chris Jensen. ” We heard from communities that they desired an easy to use tool, one that would help them understand and identify evaluate options for climate adaptation. This need served as a catalyst for development of the Climate Change Module.”

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