“The goal of the 2015 Leahy Environmental Summit is to inspire multi-organizational, regional teams to produce or further develop specific projects, programs, and plans that engage an enthusiastic community to address social and structural resiliency for flooding and stormwater issues related to climate change. Given the energy in the room, it is clear that we achieved that goal,” stated Phelan Fretz.
Showcasing British Columbia’s Watershed-Based Approach
“The Water Balance Methodology now synthesizes fundamentals of hydrology, flood protection, aquatic ecology, geomorphology and hydrogeology,” stated Jim Dumont. “The flow-duration relationship is the cornerstone of the Water Balance Methodology. By maintaining flow-duration, stream erosion is not increased during wet weather and ‘environmental flows’ are sustained during dry weather.”
Climate Change Resilient, Floodwater Smart: Vermont looks to British Columbia for inspiration at 2015 Leahy Environmental Summit
“In this first step, town conversations and plans moved to regional, watershed based projects. Using BC as inspiration the next step will weave those regional projects and plans in a network of resiliency and sustainability for Vermont that is hoped to be a model for the rest of the country,” wrote Jan Lambert.
Think and Act Like a Watershed (Part 3): A journey to a water-resilient future starts with the first rain garden
“We chose to work with road runoff because roads are the common denominator across all urban land uses,” states Jennifer McIntyre. “We don’t need to know everything about how toxic runoff is, or how it causes toxicity, to be able to do something about the problem. To date, the experimental results are pretty impressive – for example, 100% fish dead in polluted runoff compared with 100% fish survival in the same water after it had been filtered.”
Think and Act like a Watershed (Part 2): Get the hydrology right and residential water quality typically follows along
“Unless and until land development practices mimic the natural water balance, communities cannot expect to restore the biological communities within streams. Simply put, hydrology hits first and hardest – one could pour an equivalent volume of distilled water into a stream, and the consequences for stream health would be the same as if it was urban runoff,” stated Richard Horner.
Ecosystem-based adaptation (EbA) is a combination of two other significant concepts: EBM (ecosystem-based management) and climate change adaptation. “The research by Julia Berry provides rainwater and adaptation planners with an overview of EbA from principles to practice in British Columbia. The evaluation framework can be used to assess and score the extent to which provincial, regional or municipal documents incorporate EbA principles,” concludes Kim Stephens.
Moving Towards Sustainable Watershed Systems: “We need to re-learn basically ‘how we think’, using both the right and left hemispheres of our brain,” says Eva Kras, author of THE BLOCKAGE
“Short-term thinking governs much of what we do. In many organizations, the long-term view has somehow become excluded. Both ways of thinking are important, but the sad part is that we have convinced ourselves that the Left Hemisphere can do EVERYTHING. The new research by Ian McGilchrist now ‘turns the table’ because it demonstrates the true and indispensable role of the Right Hemisphere for ALL sustainable development work,” states Eva Kras.
Flashback to 2003: "Re-Inventing Urban Hydrology for Watershed Protection" – British Columbia process showcased by EPA to an American audience at national conference
“The timing of this national conference, and the exposure to the British Columbia experience, coincided well with the implementation of U.S. EPA’s Phase II NPDES Storm Water Program during 2003,” recalls Eric Strecker. “We invited Kim Stephens to present a paper about the British Columbia Guidebook because we thought it would make a good fit with the theme of thinking beyond regulations to solving the problem.”
MILESTONE RECOGNITION IN 2012 – 'Stormwater Planning: A Guidebook for British Columbia' has proven to be a catalyst for decade-long action
“In 2002, the Guidebook applied a science-based understanding, developed the water balance methodology to establish performance targets, and demonstrated that urban watershed restoration could be accomplished over a 50-year time-frame as and when communities redevelop,” states Peter Law. “The premise underpinning the Guidebook was that land development and watershed protection can be compatible.”
“Sustainable and resilient are complementary terms that draw attention to the future, and help focus thought and action. However, use of resilient more clearly shines the spotlight on Context, Intent and Results. Sustainable refers to attaining certain conditions in the context of social, economic and environmental considerations. Resilient in a biological sense is primarily the ability for an ecosystem to recover from an intervention,” states Erik Karlsen.