Parksville City Council introduced to ‘water balance’ approach to watershed sustainability

Adapting to a Changing Climate

In fall 2009, the BC Conservation Foundation (BCCF) acted on behalf of the Living Rivers Program to secure funding from Natural Resources Canada’s Regional Adaptation Collaborative (RAC) to enhance Vancouver Island community understanding of climate change, and the need for developing adaptation strategies.  The Englishman River watershed was selected as a case study for this program (one of three on Vancouver Island).

In January 2012, a 3-person team led by Craig Wightman, Senior Fisheries Biologist with BCCF, met with Council and presented the concept for a pilot study that would be funded by the RAC program.

Englishman River Pilot Study

“To date, RAC funding has supported water conservation projects in the Englishman including investigating the feasibility of seasonally storing water on Shelton Lake for summer-early fall releases to the South Englishman River,” Craig Wightman informed Council.  “Other initiatives funded by RAC include water quality monitoring undertaken by the Ministry of Environment and community stewardship groups; applied groundwater research led by Gilles Wendling.”

“Now, we wish to partner with the CIty to carry out a pilot ‘water balance’ study that would inform the OCP review of future options for the type and scale of development permitted in areas with vulnerable water resources. Results can also be framed in a climate change context.”

Water Balance Approach

“The pilot study will address the WATER FOOTPRINT – that is, how land development modifies the water cycle; and more particularly, the role of ground cover and how water enters and goes through the land,” explained Kim Stephens, Executive Director for the Partnership for Water Sustainability in BC.

“The current groundwater research initiative led by Gilles Wendling has established the importance and quantified the beneficial value of groundwater recharge in sustaining base flows in the Englishman River. This science-based understanding defines THE GOAL which is TO PROTECT GROUNDWATER RECHARGE in order to PROTECT STREAM HEALTH.”

Council Motion

“THAT the proposal from the BC Conservation Foundation, Natural Resources Canada to form a partnership with the City of Parksville to designate a pilot study area in order to evaluate the effects of development and climate change scenarios on surface and groundwater levels feeding Englishman River freshwater resources be referred to staff for review and to obtain input from the Official Community Plan consultant and report back to Council.” (Moved by Councillor Sue Powell; seconded by Councillor Marc Lefebvre) 

To Learn More:

To download a copy of the delegation request submitted by the British Columbia Conservation Foundation and Natural Resources Canada, click here..

To download a copy of the integrated presentation by Craig Wightman, Gilles Wendling and Kim Stephens, click on Integrating the Site with the Watershed and Stream: An Offer to Support the City’s OCP Review Process with a Focus on Water Sustainability

To download an article published by the Oceanside Star newspaper, click on Experts propose to study how development impacts water

To download an article published by the Parksville-Qualicum Beach News, click on BCCF floats water study in Parksville

To download a copy of the motion moved by Councillor Powell and seconded by Councillor Lefebvre, click here.