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Parksville Water Stewardship Symposium

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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THE RESTORATION ECONOMY: “The major driver of economic growth in the twenty-first century will be redeveloping our nations, revitalizing our cities, and rehabilitating and expanding our ecosystems,” wrote Storm Cunningham, author & futurist (2002)


“In the late ’90s, I began noticing a miraculous new trend: a number of places – both ecosystems and communities – were actually getting better, some spectacularly so,” wrote Storm Cunningham. “I began investigating this seeming miracle and discovered a monstrously huge, almost entirely hidden economic sector. It was restoring our world – both our built environment and our natural environment – and it already accounted for over a trillion dollars per year. But nobody was paying it any attention! I wanted to help bring the millions of restorationists together. All were working in isolation, unaware that they were part of the fastest-growing economic sector on the planet.”

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“Parksville 2019” – Coming Soon!

In April 2019, the 2nd Annual Vancouver Island Symposium on Water Stewardship in a Changing Climate will be held in the City of Parksville. This 3-day event will celebrate local government initiatives on Vancouver Island that are “getting it right”. These success stories are characterized by commitment, collaboration and the “hard work of hope”. A decade of effort, by partnerships of local governments and community stewards, is demonstrating success on the ground where it matters. They are on a pathway to reconnect hydrology and ecology. Follow the leaders!

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