Team of three brings Partnership's vision for "Water Balance Model Express" to reality



THE TEAM: Dr. Charles Rowney (Scientific Authority: calculation engine), Ian Smith (Information Technology: web interface) and Jim Dumont (Engineering Applications Authority: performance target methodology)


Note to Readers:

The Water Balance Model Express is the latest building block in a decade-long program that builds on the technical foundation provided by Stormwater Planning: A Guidebook for British Columbia, released in June 2002. The target audience for the Express is landowners. Hence, the tool must be intuitive and easy to use.


From Idea to Vision to Reality

“The District of Central Saanich was the source of inspiration for development of the Water Balance Model Express,” recalls Ted van der Gulik, Chair of the inter-governmental Water Balance Model Partnership.

“In February 2010, the District of Central Saanich adopted its Surface Water Management Bylaw. The bylaw encourages landowners to use the Water Balance Model to make decisions that achieve a lighter ‘water footprint’. The bylaw became our catalyst for action.”

“Very quickly we developed a vision for the Water Balance Model Express for Landowners. Then the priority was to secure funding. A $50,000 grant from Metro Vancouver triggered matching dollars from the federal government’s Regional Adaptation Collaborative Program. We were on our way.”


A Team Effort

“The co-leads for the Express are Richard Boase of the District of North Vancouver and Kim Stephens, Executive Director of the Partnership for Water Sustainability. The District’s Hastings Creek Watershed Blueprint has provided the proving ground for development and demonstration of the Express.”

“Our  vision is that the Express will help local governments better deliver on regulatory objectives and compliance; and that application of the tool will help change landowner behaviour,” summarizes Ted van der Gulik.

“Development of the Express truly has been a team effort involving complementary areas of technical expertise,” continues Kim Stephens. “Collaboration by Dr. Charles Rowney, Ian Smith and Jim Dumont has enabled a bold leap forward. They have taken the vision from concept to reality. The technical engine is effective and robust, and the interface design has an elegant simplicity that we believe will resonate with users.”

“The Express integrates the engine and interface in a way that does not demand too much training on the part of either the average homeowner or municipal front counter staff. We are treading new ground here. We are delighted with the way the project has come together over the past six months.”


Three Targets Link Rainfall to Stream Health

“The Express integrates three pre-set performance targets using a methodology developed by Jim Dumont. These are watershed-specific and link rainfall to stream health. This is the foundation for the breakthrough,” states Richard Boase.

“The face for the breakthrough is the interface created by Ian Smith.  It guides the landowner through a simple and visually oriented set of sizing options, with outcomes displayed in real time.  The interface is no more complex than the dash board of a typical car. It strips the process down to a few sliders and gauges.”

“At the end of the day, it is the engine that drives the interface. Dr. Rowney has again demonstrated why he is a recognized international authority in the world of hydrologic and hydraulic modelling. He has translated Jim Dumont’s precedent-setting methodology into a calculator that is really quite powerful in efficiently and rapidly testing alternative rainwater control types and sizes.”