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Water Balance Model for BC

FLASHBACK TO 2004: An approval by Agricultural Land Commission for Home Depot project in Courtenay required use of “Water Balance Model for British Columbia” to establish, test and meet performance targets for capturing rain on-site, where it falls, to protect agricultural lands downhill


The Home Depot project was one of the earliest applications of the Water Balance Methodology pursuant to the Stormwater Planning Guidebotok. “In 2003, the Home Depot development application in the City of Courtenay was to build a store and parking lot covering 90% of a four hectare second growth coniferous forest property,” stated Kevin Lagan. “The City required that post-development rainwater and stormwater flows leaving the site were equal to or less than the pre-development flows. For this property that was effectively zero.”

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YOUTUBE VIDEO: “What we believed to be ‘unachievable’ in 1998 may in fact now be within our grasp,” stated Kim Stephens when he provided a UDI Victoria audience with the provincial context for developing the online Water Balance Model as an extension of British Columbia’s Stormwater Guidebook (Flashback to March 2008)


“A decade ago, we thought that the best we could do would be to Hold the Line for 20 years; and if we could do that for 20 years, we believed that we might be able to improve conditions over a 50-year period,” stated Kim Stephens. “We went back to the basics to gain an understanding of how we could protect or restore the natural water balance by changing the way land is developed. A decade ago, the breakthrough in thinking came when we developed the concept of a Rainfall Spectrum to categorize the rainfall-days that occur each year.”

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IN MEMORIAM: A Tribute to Charles Rowney – It is unfathomable to think he is gone. He was an unparalleled force.


Charles Rowney, PhD, was larger than life. A leader and innovator, he was a giant in the field of water resource modelling. In British Columbia, the enduring legacy of Charles Rowney resides in the web-based Water Balance Model suite of modelling tools. In the United States, creation of the Center for Infrastructure Modelling and Management (ncimm.org) in 2016 was a crowning achievement in the career of Charles Rowney. He was a driving force to provide sustainable research, development and outreach for water infrastructure modeling.

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FLASHBACK TO 2003: “To provide a feedback loop for the Stormwater Planning Guidebook, the Regional District of Nanaimo developed and applied the At-Risk Methodology through a knowledge-based approach,” stated John Finnie, former General Manager of Environmental Services


“The most effective and affordable way to identify at-risk watersheds for priority action is to tap the knowledge of people within any regional district or municipality who have the necessary planning, ecology and engineering knowledge,” stated John Finnie. “If the right people with the right knowledge are involved at the start, a knowledge-based approach will be both time-efficient and cost-effective. Priority action should be focused in at-risk drainage catchments where there is both high pressure for land use change and a driver for action.”

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YEAR IN REVIEW: “In 2017. the Partnership for Water Sustainability greatly enhanced the capabilities of the Water Balance family of tools to make real the vision for the ‘BC Framework’ for sustainable service delivery,” stated Ted van der Gulik, President, when reflecting on program accomplishments


No longer is asset management only about hard engineered assets – watermains, sewers, roads. Watershed systems are also “infrastructure assets”. Asset Management for Sustainable Service Delivery: A BC Framework sets a strategic direction that would refocus business processes on outcomes that reduce life-cycle costs and risks. “Financial support from three levels of government makes it possible for the Partnership for Water Sustainability to develop tools, resources and programs,” stated Ted van der Gulik.

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GREEN INFRASTRUCTURE INNOVATION 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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ANNOUNCEMENT: Partnership for Water Sustainability in British Columbia re-builds and re-launches waterbalance.ca website for easy access to an array of online tools that support the vision for "Sustainable Watershed Systems, through Asset Management" (Sept 2017)


“The current industry-wide move to on-line computation, propelled by changing approaches to software delivery as a multitude of enterprises commit to The Cloud, is hugely important,” stated Dr. Charles Rowney. “The leadership shown by the Partnership for Water Sustainability in decisively moving in this direction well over a decade ago has led to a body of knowledge from which others can learn.”

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FLASHBACK TO 2012: Re-built on a new platform to expand its capabilities, the 'Water Balance Model powered by QUALHYMO' is a shared legacy that resulted from a building blocks process over time


“This unique web-based tool is the shared legacy of a team of senior practitioners,” stated Kim Stephens in 2012. “It is the outcome of a process that has depended on the commitment of a number of organizations, and especially the efforts of the champions within those organizations, to produce a series of deliverables that successively advanced the practice of rainwater management within British Columbia.”

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FLASHBACK TO 2010: "Canada Mortgage & Housing Corporation is providing financial support for the Rainwater Harvesting Module to add to the capabilities of the Water Balance Model," stated Cate Soroczan, CMHC Senior Researcher


“The early success of the Water Balance Model in British Columbia generated interest in expanding the focus of the tool to reach a national audience. This culminated in the decision by CMHC in 2004 to fund development of the national portal,” stated Cate Soroczan. “The rainwater harvesting and storage component with variable sizing and demand will allow the user to optimize both the demand for potable water and the size of the physical storage.”

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FLASHBACK TO 2010: "Publication of the Technical Manual for the Water Balance Model allows users to follow the numbers," stated Richard Boase, Co-Chair of the Inter-Governmental Partnership, at the time of its release


“The community of Water Balance Model users had been asking for a technical manual that documents the intelligent WBM interface that translates user information into data used by the QUALHYMO engine. The lens for manual development was the engineering user who wants to follow the numbers from the WBM interface keystroke to the QUALHYMO file. In a nutshell, it is all about data mapping,” stated Richard Boase in 2010.

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