GEORGIA BASIN INTER-REGIONAL EDUCATION INITIATIVE: “Understanding leads to action. Getting there is a step-by-step process," stated Ted van der Gulik, President, Partnership for Water Sustainability in BC
Note to Reader:
Collaborating under the umbrella of the Georgia Basin Inter-Regional Education Initiative (IREI), five regional districts are sharing and learning from each other about how to implement “Sustainable Watershed Systems, through Asset Management”.
The IREI partners are Cowichan Valley, Capital Region, Nanaimo Region, Comox Valley and Metro Vancouver. Together, the five represent 75% of British Columbia’s population. The not-for-profit Partnership for Water Sustainability in BC is the IREI secretariat.
In March 2017, the governments of Canada and British Columbia announced program funding for Sustainable Watershed Systems. The Cowichan Valley Regional District (CVRD) acted on behalf of the partners to receive the capacity-building grant from the Clean Water and Wastewater Fund (CWWF).
Moving from Awareness to Understanding to Implementation
“The Partnership for Water Sustainability develops tools and provides professional development on behalf of government,” said Ted van der Gulik, Partnership President.
“The IREI was launched in 2012. A year ago regional district partners recommitted through 2021. The current IREI program focus and goal is: Sustainable Watershed Systems, through Asset Management.
“Understanding leads to action. Getting there is a step-by-step process. Presently, we are creating awareness. Early uptake of the vision for Sustainable Watershed Systems has exceeded our expectations.
“There is clearly interest and an appetite to learn more. It is an idea whose time has come. Starting in November 2015, we have introduced the vision to an array of audiences in a variety of forums and media.
“The next phase of the work plan will demonstrate how to integrate whole-system, water balance thinking and climate adaptation into drainage infrastructure asset management.
“Benefits would include less flooding, less stream erosion, and more streamflow during dry weather when needed most. These water balance benefits would ultimately translate into lower life-cycle costs and a water-resilient future.
“The work of the Partnership links directly to Asset Management for Sustainable Service Delivery: A BC Framework. Once local governments have fully implemented a life-cycle approach to infrastructure decision-making, such that Sustainable Service Delivery for engineered assets is standard practice, the next step would be to account for the Water Balance Services provided by nature’s assets.
“In the interim, the Partnership’s job is to teach, train and mentor practitioners so that they are ready for that next step,” concluded Ted van Gulik.
Sustainable Watershed Systems,
through Asset Management
Commencing with release of Moving Towards “Sustainable Watershed Systems, through Asset Management” in November 2015, an initiative has been underway to transform how local governments and others think about the drainage function and to recognize ‘watersheds as infrastructure assets’.
Below, as illustrated on the Asset Management Continuum for Sustainable Service Delivery, Sustainable Watershed Systems would be the outcome in Step Three.
But it is not a wait-and-see proposition. Even as local governments are progressing through Steps One and Two for their core infrastructure, they need to be laying the groundwork so that they would be ready to implement Step Three.
Did You Know:
The Partnership for Water Sustainability:
- Develops tools and implements programs that are accessible and replicable.
- Tackles “the disconnect” between information and implementation.
- Facilitates alignment of regional and local actions with the provincial policy, program and regulatory framework.
- Profiles. showcases and celebrates local government successes through professional development and outreach.
To Learn More:
GEORGIA BASIN INTER-REGIONAL EDUCATION INITIATIVE: “Collaboration is leading to precedents for integrating watershed systems with land use and infrastructure decisions,” stated Jon Lefebure, Chair of the Cowichan Valley Regional District