Vancouver Island Inter-Regional Education Initiative launched at Cowichan Forum on Sustainable Rainwater Management

Vancouver Island is a hot-bed of progressive ideas and provincially significant initiatives. Regional districts and their partner municipalities are advancing watershed-based strategies and programs that integrate the site with the watershed and stream. These initiatives all recognize the importance of fostering a land ethic that respects water.

In March 2012, the Cowichan Valley regional team hosted a Water Balance Model Forum and the Partnership for Water Sustainability formally launched the Vancouver Island Inter-Regional Education Initiative. The Cowichan Valley regional team comprises five local governments, the Cowichan Tribes, and the Cowichan Watershed Board.

Held at the Cowichan campus of Vancouver Island University, the Water Balance Forum attracted representatives from 29 organizations, including the City of Calgary. The Inter-Regional Education Initiative is bringing together local governments from four regions on the east coast of Vancouver Island: Capital Region, Cowichan Valley, Nanaimo Region and Comox Valley.

Mimic the Water Balance to Protect Stream Health: What Does that Mean?

“The Cowichan Forum provided us with a teachable moment to focus our local government colleagues on what it means in practice to mimic the Water Balance,” reports Kim Stephens, Partnership Executive Director. “A critical take-away message was the need for everyone to shine their spotlights on the Water Balance Methodology. This is the priority. The Water Balance Model is simply the means to achieve an outcome.”

“The Water Balance Methodology holds the key to protecting stream health because it integrates the site with the watershed and the stream. The methodology accounts for all the rainfall-days in a year. The methodology links rain that falls on a site…to the runoff leaving the site…to the flow in a stream. This methodology is a foundation block for those tasked with developing a master drainage plan or a rainwater management plan.”

Look at Rainfall Differently

A decade ago, looking at rainfall differently led the Province of BC to develop the Water Balance Methodology, and initiate a paradigm-shift in the way rainwater is managed:

  • The Province formalized the performance target methodology in Stormwater Planning: A Guidebook for British Columbia, a provincial guidance document released in 2002.
  • Translated science-based understanding so that local governments could establish achievable and affordable performance targets for rainfall capture and runoff control.

BC was the first provincial or state government in North America to implement the Water Balance Methodology. For more information, click on Water Balance Methodology to download an explanatory document..

Links to PowerPoint Presentations

Rainwater Management in the Cowichan Valley (13.3MB PDF)

Rainwater Management in Langford & Ladysmith (4.9MB PDF)

Rainwater Management in Central Saanich (5.8MB PDF)

Rainwater Management in a Watershed Context (2.4MB PDF)

An Introduction to the Water Balance Model (5.0MB PDF)

Cowichan Water Balance Forum – closing segment (0.2MB PDF)

Convening for Action in the Cowichan Valley

In 2008, the Cowichan Valley was the first demonstration region for the initial rollout of Living Water Smart. In October 2008, for example, the Cowichan Valley regional team hosted the inaugural Vancouver Island Water Balance Model Forum.

“Through collaboration and alignment of efforts, our goal is to ensure a consistent approach to rainwater management on Vancouver Island, one that mimics the water balance,” reports Nagi Rizk, Municipal Engineer with the Town of Lake Cowichan. When he delivered the closing remarks at the Forum, he said:

“It is a great honor for me to be part of the Cowichan Valley team. I am glad so many have travelled from so many places to be here today. In this room alone there is a lot of talent; and to reinforce what Blake Medlar of the Ministry of Environment observed, by working together we can make a difference…not just on the Island but also throughout the Province, across the country, and south of the border.”

“I am going to be around for at least another ten years; and am excited to think about the future and the great progress we can achieve together in the coming years,” concluded Nagi Rizk.

To Learn More:

To read a story previously posted on the Water Bucket about the Forum and the Inter-Regional Education Initiative, click on Sustainable Rainwater Management on Vancouver Island: What Does It Look Like?