AT PARKSVILLE 2019: On April 3, the theme for Day One of the Symposium on Water Stewardship in a Changing Climate is SUSTAINABLE STREAM RESTORATION >>> “Reconnect hydrology and ecology – because what happens on the land in the creekshed matters to streams!” (REGISTRATION NOW OPEN)

Note to Reader:

In the 1990s, Dr. Chris May’s seminal research defined the relationship between land use change and stream impacts. To protect stream ecology, as well as to achieve Sustainable Stream Restoration, communities must address the root causes of ‘changes in hydrology’ (water quantity). Chris May will open Parksville 2019 with a presentation titled The Science Behind the Whole-System, Water Balance Approach.

A foundation piece is to understand how ‘changes in hydrology’ have consequences for stream ecology as follows: Development hardens the land surface and reduces the capacity of the landscape to absorb water. Thus, there is more flow volume in creeks when it rains, and little or no flow during a drought. 

Dr. May is a freshwater ecologist and environmental engineer with expertise in urban watershed assessment and management. His areas of interest include stormwater management, low impact development (LID), salmonid habitat restoration, urban stream rehabilitation, water quality monitoring, stream biological assessment, and watershed restoration. Currently, he is the Senior Program Director of the Kitsap County Public Works Stormwater Management Program.

Prior to joining Kitsap County, Dr. May was the head of the Urban Watershed Group at Seattle Public Utilities (SPU), a senior research scientist and engineer at the Battelle Marine Sciences Laboratory (MSL) and, a research engineer at the University of Washington Applied Physics Laboratory (UW-APL); his research there centered on the cumulative impacts of urbanization on native salmonids in small streams in the Puget Sound lowland eco-region.

Dr. May is an adjunct faculty member of Western Washington University Huxley College of the Environment, and the University of Washington Environmental Science Program.

Four Cascading Modules

The April 3rd program on Sustainable Stream Restoration comprises four cascading modules. Each builds on the last, and each sets the stage for the next.

In Module A, Dr. Chris May will set the tone for the symposium when he explains the science behind the Whole-System, Water Balance Approach. In the 1990s, his pioneer research in collaboration with Dr. Richard Horner shook the very foundations of conventional stormwater management practice. Their findings resulted in a hydrology-based framework for protecting watershed health. A lesson learned is that historical practice has disconnected hydrology from ecology. The consequences of this disconnect are more erosion and flooding, and loss of baseflow and aquatic habitat.

In Module B, a 5-person panel will engage participants in a Town-Hall Session titled Watershed Health and You. The story of the Englishman River Recovery Plan, and the catalyst role subsequently played by the Mid Vancouver Island Habitat Enhancement Society, will inform the discussion of what a Whole-System approach looks like, and what it would mean to reconnect hydrology and ecology.

Module C will be conducted as a ‘mini-workshop within the symposium’ by a provincial government team from the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development. A Ministry initiative is mobilizing stewardship groups and community volunteers to collect streamflow data, and thus fill a gap. The pace of a workshop-type format, with the emphasis on taking the time for audience interaction, is designed to help the streamkeepers in the audience wrap their minds around the content. This would result in an enhanced educational outcome. Practitioners would also benefit from this approach to knowledge-transfer.

Module D is the book-end for the day. A key message is that decades of in-stream restoration work have not been sustainable because communities have not addressed the root causes of ‘changes of hydrology’. For more than two decades, communities have known what needs to be done differently vis-a-vis land development and drainage practices, but have not done so in either a consistent or universal manner. Module D is the bridge to Day Two. Another key message is that restorative land development results in sustainable stream restoration.

In January 2019, a detailed Agenda will be released for April 3. A set of detailed Abstracts will flesh out the scope and expectations for each module,  and will include information about speakers.


For the complete storyline, download the PARKSVILLE 2019 BROCHURE. This is a comprehensive package that maps out the field day plus 2-day symposium. To read two announcements published in November 2018, click on the links below: