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Vancouver Island

    WATER BALANCE PERFORMANCE TARGETS: “The flow-duration relationship is the cornerstone of British Columbia’s Water Balance Methodology. As understanding has grown, the methodology has evolved.” – from Water Balance Approach on Vancouver Island (released by the Partnership for Water Sustainability in January 2018)


    The Water Balance Methodology has its genesis in the whole-system approach that Dr. Ray Linsley (1917-1990) championed more than 60 years ago. As a professor at Stanford University, he pioneered the development of continuous hydrologic simulation as the foundation for water balance management. “To be useful…the simulation model must be physically based and deterministic, and it must be designed to simulate the entire hydrological cycle…hence it must be a water balance model,” wrote Linsely in 1976.

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    An Interview with Peter Law (November 2017): “Our goal is to educate people in the watershed surrounding Shelly Creek. We will be conducting ‘kitchen table talks’ to educate people on the effects of excess water running through the stream.”


    The Shelly Creek experience foreshadows that an informed stream stewardship sector may prove to be a difference-maker that accelerates implementation of the ‘whole-system, water balance’ approach in British Columbia. “We’ve got some issues around trying to slow the water down. As lands get developed, we ditch and we drain everything and that moves water into the channel faster and pushes it into this place. As a site is developed or cleared, you’re actually looking at how you can slow the water down from that site, not drain it,” stated Peter Law.

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    YOUTUBE VIDEO: “An educational goal is that those who are involved in municipal land use and drainage would understand the vision for ‘Sustainable Watershed Systems, through Asset Management’,” stated Kim Stephens, keynote speaker at the Nanaimo Water Stewardship Symposium (April 2018)


    “Part of that is the paradigm-shift to recognize watersheds as infrastructure assets,” stated Kim Stephens. “Whether you use the word deficit or liability, the significance is that we don’t have the money to refinance or replace our existing core infrastructure such as water, sewer or roads. So, a simple challenge to a municipal councillor or regional board member is: Why would you take on another unfunded liability called drainage – which is what you have been doing for a lifetime!”

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    YOUTUBE VIDEO: “Hydrology is the engine that powers ecological services,” stated Tim Pringle, Chair, Ecological Accounting Process (EAP) Initiative, at the Nanaimo Water Stewardship Symposium (April 2018)


    “The worth of a creekshed is a package of ecological services made possible by the hydrology. These inter-dependent ecological systems provide uses we call nature; examples are wetlands, ponds, riparian areas, woodlands, habitat for flora and fauna, etc. These systems add appeal and quality to parks, greenways, trails, as well as opportunities to focus on natural processes such as salmon spawning and nesting sites,” stated Tim Pringle. “The next step is doing. A strategy is the path to success.”

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    DOWNLOAD: Stormwater Planning: A Guidebook for British Columbia


    “Released in 2002, the Guidebook provides a framework for effective rainwater management throughout the province. This tool for local governments presents a methodology for moving from planning to action that focuses on implementing early action where it is most needed,” states Laura Maclean. “The Guidebook approach is designed to eliminate the root cause of negative ecological and property impacts of rainwater runoff by addressing the complete spectrum of rainfall events. The Guidebook approach contrasts with conventional ‘flows-and-pipes’ stormwater management.”

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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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    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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    Watershed Case Profile Series: “Water Balance Approach on Vancouver Island” (released January 2018)


    The storyline is built around three regional Water Balance Methodology demonstration applications. “To be useful…the simulation model must be physically based and deterministic, and it must be designed to simulate the entire hydrological cycle…hence it must be a water balance model,” wrote Ray Linsley (1917-1990). He pioneered development of continuous hydrologic simulation as the foundation for water balance modelling. The Water Balance Methodology is a synthesis of watershed hydrology and stream dynamics.

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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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