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Rainwater Management

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ASSET MANAGEMENT BC NEWSLETTER (February 2021): “Restoring land drainage and stream corridor system integrity for a creekshed would require looking beyond the stream corridor to the surrounding landscape – that is, reconnect hydrology and stream ecology by design,” stated Kim Stephens, Executive Director, Partnership for Water Sustainability in BC


“EAP, the Ecological Accounting Process, focuses on drainage and the condition and/or integrity of stream corridors. Both natural and constructed assets need to be addressed in the drainage context. Both are systems and therefore require similar M&M strategies. Drainage infrastructure, or lack thereof, is typically an unfunded liability that grows over time. It is the elephant in the room. EAP supports local governments intending to adopt a life-cycle approach to M&M of natural assets much as it would apply to constructed assets,” stated Kim Stephens.

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RECONNECTING HYDROLOGY & STREAM ECOLOGY IN BRITISH COLUMBIA: Historical context for an ecosystem-based approach to managing land and water in the urban environment – the coming together of a group of change agents in 1997 set in motion a chain of outcomes


The late Erik Karlsen conceived and championed the idea of a Watershed/Landscaped-Based Approach to Community Planning. His last assignment while in government was to collaborate with a Metro Vancouver interdisciplinary working group to produce the conceptual framework for the approach. The underpinning premise is that resource, land use and community design decisions will be made with an eye towards their potential impact on the watershed. is a prime application of the ‘watershed/landscape-based’ approach.

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USE PLAIN LANGUAGE: “Words like ‘stormwater’, ‘rainwater’ and ‘drainage’ can have such powerful unconscious effects on how you interpret the discussions and they can mean different things to different stakeholders in the system,” stated Charles Axelsson, PhD candidate, University of Venice (January 2021)


“In the sciences, one of the largest challenges to research is science communication. A lot of fantastic studies are misinterpreted outside of scientific circles because the language, style and meaning of science writing is very different to non-specialists. With climate change studies, this can lead to a serious disconnect between climate change policy and the supporting research. Good policy is reliant of strong communication of everyone’s interests,” stated Charles Axelsson.

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FLASHBACK TO THE ROLLOUT OF BEYOND THE GUIDEBOOK 2010: “A key component of managing for storms is redesigning our approach to handling the more frequent, lighter rainfall events,” Anna Warwick Sears, Executive Director of the Okanagan Basin Water Board, at the last of five regional events that showcased the rollout of Beyond the Guidebook 2010 (From Rain to Resource Workshop, Kelowna, October 2010)


“Extreme weather patterns, including higher rainfall intensities and more frequent flooding, are one of the projected outcomes of climate change. Managing stormwater effectively will be a critical climate change adaptation tool. Increased development and increased storm intensity from climate change are increasing peak flows and altering the rules of the game. We can’t engineer away our problems fast enough, and have to look at other, lower impact solutions,” stated Anna Warwick Sears.

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FLASHBACK TO 2008 / MAKE GREEN CHOICES TO PROTECT STREAM HEALTH: “Rather than evolution, the approach to stormwater management over the last couple of decades might be better described as ‘reactionary’ in response to a realization that old ways of doing business were causing harm,” stated Ian Whitehead at Seminar 1 in the inaugural Comox Valley Learning Lunch Series when he provided a historical retrospective on the evolution of drainage practices in the City of Courtenay (YouTube Video)


“I looked up the definition of evolution in my pocket dictionary. It says develop, or cause to develop gradually. It goes on to say that this means undergo slow changes in the process of growth. By this definition, at least, I would argue that what has been going on in this part of the world is something other than evolutionary. Over the last 15 to 20 years, we have seen dramatic changes in the Comox Valley in land use and the effects of stormwater and rainwater on the environment. We are reacting to what we perceive as adverse conditions,” stated Ian Whitehead.

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FLASHBACK TO 2008 / BEYOND THE GUIDEBOOK: “The Stormwater Guidebook set in motion a chain of outcomes that resulted in British Columbia being recognized internationally as a leader in implementing a natural systems approach to rainwater management in the urban environment,” stated Kim Stephens, series team leader, at Seminar 1 in the inaugural Comox Valley Learning Lunch Series (YouTube Video)


“The evolution of planning for water sustainability by implementing green infrastructure achieved a milestone with release of Beyond the Guidebook in 2007. The goal? Help local governments achieve desired urban stream health and environmental protection outcomes at a watershed scale. In early 2008, the provincial government’s Speech from the Throne provided a timely impetus for branding Beyond the Guidebook as The New Business As Usual and rolling it out through the Vancouver Island Learning Lunch Series,” stated Kim Stephens.

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FLASHBACK TO 2008: “There is no piped drainage system on the site. Water stored on the roof spills onto a dry creek bed and flows sub-surface to a marsh,” stated the City of Nanaimo’s Dean Mousseau when he described the ‘design with nature’ approach to rainwater management at the Inland Kenworth site (YouTube Video)


The Inland Kenworth truck and heavy equipment facility in the City of Nanaimo illustrates what can be accomplished through collaboration when a municipality challenges a development proponent to be innovative, green the built environment, and protect stream health. “We view this project as the one that changed the thinking of the consulting community in Nanaimo, particularly on redevelopment projects. We are turning the tide because projects are now incorporating features for rainwater runoff capture,” stated Dean Mousseau.

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APPLICATION OF ECOLOGICAL ACCOUNTING PROCESS TO SHELLY CREEK ON VANCOUVER ISLAND: “As a result of alterations to the hydrology of the creekshed, the Shelly Creek ‘riparian ecosystem’ has been reduced to a number of ‘riparian zones’ as defined in regulations. We view this finding as one of the key takeaways from the financial valuation of the Shelly Creek natural commons and the package of ecological services that it provides,” stated Tim Chair, EAP Chair


“The Ecological Accounting Process (EAP) considers use and conservation of land to be equally important values. Historically, land use and property development in our communities have been given priority over ecological systems such as streams. Too often the result has been remnant ecological services that fall far short of the benefits that these natural commons can provide. The research findings suggest that the diminution of stream functions gradually will draw the attention of property owners and the community to the ‘no harm’ rule in land appraisal.,” stated Tim Pringle.

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DOWNLOAD BEYOND THE GUIDEBOOK 2015: “Moving Towards Sustainable Watershed Systems, through Asset Management” (released November 2015)


“Beyond the Guidebook 2015 is a milestone accomplishment, and was made possible with provincial funding assistance. The Ministry of Environment acknowledges that the Partnership for Water Sustainability 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,” stated Wes Shoemaker, Deputy Minister.

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DOWNLOAD BEYOND THE GUIDEBOOK 2010: “Implementing a New Culture for Urban Watershed Protection and Restoration in British Columbia” (released June 2010)


“There are a lot of times when we in local government like to blame or put on senior governments the responsibility to provide the framework for doing something, but there are things that we in local government can do. We need to choose to be enabled. So, what we mean by shared responsibility is that everyone has a role, and everyone can act – all levels of government, developers, regulators, bureaucrats, consultants, planners, engineers – we all have a role,” stated Ray Fung.

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