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Parksville Water Stewardship Symposium

WHAT HAPPENS ON THE LAND DOES MATTER! – hosted by Forester University (May 2017), the Water Balance Webinar from British Columbia introduced a North American audience to the methodology that underpins vision for “Sustainable Watershed Systems, through Asset Management” – the Whole-System, Water Balance approach simplifies things down to an understanding of the consequences of changes in duration of flow!


The Partnership for Water Sustainability in British Columbia partnered with Forester University to share, via webcast, the BC innovation and experience that has resulted in the whole-system, water balance approach. “We are delighted to have Kim Stephens and Jim Dumont share British Columbia’s cutting-edge continuous simulation model, known as the Water Balance Methodology,” stated Emily Shine. “At Forester University, we aim to position ourselves at the forefront of innovation in rainwater management and green infrastructure, and that is why we are calling Water Balance Methodology a webinar that cannot be missed.”

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JOIN US FOR A WATERSHED MOMENT AT “PARKSVILLE 2019”: What happens on the land matters – “We can decrease our Destructive Footprint while increasing our Restoration Footprint,” said Storm Cunningham when providing a restorative development context for reconnecting hydrology to ecology in order to re-establish creekshed function in a changing climate


“A long time ago, I had a conversation with the University of British Columbia’s Bill Rees. He is known world-wide for creating the ecological footprint concept,” recalled Storm Cunningham. “The whole idea of reducing our footprint is great, I said to Bill, but what about the flip side? Shouldn’t we also be measuring the restorative effects that our society, and our economy, are having? My point was that, at the same time as we are decreasing our destructive footprint, we can also be increasing our restoration footprint. That is a core message of restorative development.”

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REINVENT URBAN DRAINAGE ENGINEERING PRACTICE TO MITIGATE CHANGES IN HYDROLOGY: “To protect watershed health, understand the watershed as a Whole System, and mimic the natural water balance,” stated Dr. Richard Horner, University of Washington (Seattle)


In the mid-1990s, the pioneer work of Dr. Richard Horner and Dr. Chris May resulted in a hydrology-based framework for protecting watershed health. In 1996, they published a seminal paper that synthesized a decade of Puget Sound research. “So many studies manipulate a single variable out of context with the whole and its many additional variables,” stated Dr. Richard Horner. “We, on the other hand, investigated whole systems in place, tying together measures of the landscape, stream habitat, and aquatic life.”

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FLASHBACK TO NANAIMO 2018 SYMPOSIUM: “Keep working to make your world better. You are engaged with pride, and with joy, in the hard work of hope. And what you are doing offers hope to all,” stated Bob Sandford in his closing observations of what it will take to implement restorative development in the mid-Vancouver Island region and beyond (April 2018, watch on YouTube)


“Streamkeepers and municipalities both have a great deal of unexercised power and capacity to collaborate in the interests of the common good. You have only started; and in so doing, you can move outside the limitations of formal, established governance structures,” stated Bob Sandford. “It is the way to move out from under that, to build new governance pathways. And pathways to real power that can allow you to make change possible in a much shorter period of time. You have proven that, if you change your attitudes, changes in practice follow almost immediately. So, I ask and urge you to carry on.”

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RESTORE CREEKSHED HYDROLOGY, PREVENT STREAM EROSION, ENSURE FISH SURVIVAL: “By sharing the story of Shelly Creek, we want readers to recognize that erosion is a common issue impacting salmon and trout habitats in small streams, draining into the Salish Sea,” stated Peter Law, President of the Mid Vancouver Habitat Enhancement Society


“The challenge is to move from stop-gap remediation of in-stream problems to long-term restoration of a properly functioning watershed,” stated Peter Law. “Through their involvement in MVIHES, community stewardship volunteers are demonstrating what it means to embrace ‘shared responsibility’ and take the initiative to lead by example. A paramount goal is to ‘get it right’ in the stream channel,” stated Peter Law. “The survival of Coho salmon in the Englishman River depends on a healthy Shelly Creek.”

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Green, Heal and Restore the Earth: Ian McHarg’s “Design with Nature” vision influences implementation of green infrastructure strategies in British Columbia


In his 1969 book, Design With Nature, Ian McHarg pioneered the concept of environmental planning. “So, I commend Design with Nature to your sympathetic consideration. The title contains a gradient of meaning. It can be interpreted as simply descriptive of a planning method, deferential to places and peoples, it can invoke the Grand Design, it can emphasize the conjunction with and, finally it can be read as an imperative. DESIGN WITH NATURE!,” wrote Ian McHarg.

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RECONNECT HYDROLOGY & ECOLOGY TO MOVE TOWARDS RESTORATIVE DEVELOPMENT: An understanding of Daniel Pauly’s “Shifting Baseline Syndrome” is a foundation piece for turning the clock back to replicate desired creekshed conditions


A shifting baseline (also known as sliding baseline) is a type of change to how a system is measured, usually against previous reference points (baselines), which themselves may represent significant changes from an even earlier state of the system. “Every generation will use the images that they got at the beginning of their conscious lives as a standard and will extrapolate forward. And the difference then, they perceive as a loss. But they don’t perceive what happened before as a loss,” stated Daniel Pauly. “And the question is, why do people accept this? Well because they don’t know that it was different.”

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BRITISH COLUMBIA IS AT A TIPPING POINT: The time has come to transition drainage engineering practice from “voodoo hydrology” to a water balance approach branded as “Sustainable Watershed Systems, through Asset Management”


Drainage engineering practice for servicing of land still relies on very simple formulae and methodologies to calculate peak rates of flow. Such analyses are empirical, not science-based. Andy Reese coined the term Voodoo Hydrology in 2006 to describe drainage engineering and stormwater management practice. “We have for years relied upon common design methodologies and trusted their results. But, should we? It is an inexact science at best. We rely on judgment and guesswork,” states Andy Reese.

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JOIN US FOR A WATERSHED MOMENT (April 2-3-4, 2019): Parksville 2019 Symposium on restorative development is the outcome of collaboration involving three non-government organizations that share a vision for reconnecting hydrology and ecology – the Nanaimo & Area Land Trust (NALT), the Partnership for Water Sustainability in British Columbia, and the Mid Vancouver Island Habitat Enhancement Society (MVIHES)


“Now is the time to get it right. Restoring water balance is crucial for our human and natural habitats. The 2018 Symposium brought us together and gave us energy for change, the 2019 Parksville Symposium will show us real world examples of planning for the water we want and need,” states Paul Chapman. “Some of the challenges to stewardship, the barriers, are upstream, literally and figuratively. Outdated development decisions and practices continue to disrupt the water balance and undermine the health of watersheds. Some of the challenges require a step past the comfortable – political action.”

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CHARTING A NEW COURSE TO A SUSTAINABLE WATER FUTURE: “The Regional District of Nanaimo’s long-term innovative regional program to protect water resources recognizes watersheds as the best management unit and enables collaborative initiatives, including community participation in water monitoring and water conservation,” wrote Julie Pisani (Innovation Magazine, 2018)


“Science and data collection are key focuses of the program,” reports Julie Pisani. “The DWWP program’s success is based on staying on course with reliable ongoing funding, collaborative fact-finding and project implementation, and recognition-in-action that watersheds don’t conform to jurisdictional boundaries. However, there is still a lot of work to be done to adapt to a changing climate. The program is well positioned, with a model of innovative collaboration, to tackle the issues and chart a new course to a sustainable water future.”

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