FINANCIAL CASE FOR MILLSTONE RIVER ECOLOGICAL SERVICES: “The report on application of EAP, the Ecological Accounting Process, will help the City look at how to improve and enhance the value of the Millstone greenway and help the City prioritize future restoration of this important natural feature that runs through the heart of our beautiful City,” stated Rob Lawrance, Environmental Planner with the City of Nanaimo


The edition of Waterbucket eNews published on May 4, 2021 featured the financial case for the ecological services provided by the Millstone River in the Regional District of Nanaimo. The week before, the RDN Regional Board had established a BC-first when it approved this recommendation by staff:

“That the Millstone River Ecological Accounting Process report be used to inform future Corporate Asset Management Planning.”

Also on May 4th, the Partnership for Water Sustainability released Millstone River – A Natural Commons in the Regional District of Nanaimo: Operationalizing the Ecological Accounting Process for Financial Valuation of Stream Corridor Systems within an Asset Management Plan, the fifth in a series of reports on EAP demonstration applications.

The driver for EAP, the Ecological Accounting Process, is degradation of stream channels and streamside protection areas. EAP addresses the elephant in the room which is the unfunded cost (hence liability) to protect, remediate or enhance stream systems in urban and rural landscapes.

Elephant in the Room: Drainage and the Unfunded Infrastructure Liability

“EAP, the Ecological Accounting Process, focuses on drainage and the condition and/or integrity of stream corridors. Both natural and constructed assets need to be addressed in the drainage context. Both are systems and therefore require similar M&M strategies. Drainage infrastructure, or lack thereof, is typically an unfunded liability that grows over time. It is the elephant in the room,” stated Kim Stephens, Waterbucket eNews Editor and Executive Director, Partnership for Water Sustainability in British Columbia.

“EAP supports local governments intending to adopt a life-cycle approach to M&M of natural assets much as it would apply to constructed assets.  Effective M&M of natural assets requires commitment backed up by line items in an annual report.”

“EAP satisfies a local government need for a financial methodology and metrics for valuation of ecological assets. Most importantly, EAP interweaves the financial, social and ecological perspectives within a single number.”

“This number is defined as the Natural Commons Asset (NCA) value. The end goal is an annual budget for ‘maintenance and management’ (M&M) of stream systems.”

To Learn More:

Download a copy of Elephant in the Room: Drainage and the Unfunded Infrastructure Liability

An Overview of the Millstone River EAP Project

“The Millstone River EAP project has provided the RDN with a path forward so that it could account for and operationalize M&M of stream corridor systems across the region. This would be done under the umbrella of its Corporate Asset Management Plan. This would be a BC-first,” emphasized Kim Stephens

“The Millstone River and EAP project are a vignette for the bigger mandate of the Regional District of Nanaimo’s Drinking Water and Watershed Protection program (DWWP). Both demonstrate project level partnerships with stewardship groups; as well as partnerships across local government jurisdictions,” continued Julie Pisani, DWWP Program Coordinator.

“Engaging a project steering committee and conducting a community survey on how landowners nearby to the stream value its presence and understand its worth, were important qualitative inputs alongside the number-crunching.”

“Through this process, the importance of riparian vegetation was highlighted and led to an additional desktop assessment of riparian cover in the river corridor, which provides a high-level basis for strategizing where to prioritize investment in restoration of riparian woodlands to improve the health and functioning condition of the river.”

A Stream is a Land Use 

The EAP methodology focuses on the historical and current land use practices that have changed landscapes, modified hydrology, and have led to present-day community perceptions of the worth of the stream or creekshed and the ecological services it provides. A whole-system understanding is the starting point for developing meaningful metrics,” added Tim Pringle EAP Chair.

“A central idea of the EAP methodology is that a stream is a land use. If the stream did not exist, the land it occupies would be in the same use as nearby development. A stream is a land use because the area of the setback zone is defined in regulations.”

To Learn More:

To read the complete article released in May 2021, download a PDF copy of Living Water Smart in British Columbia: Accounting for Stream Systems in Asset Management.

To delve into the details of the Millstone River EAP project, download a copy of Millstone River – A Natural Commons in the Regional District of Nanaimo