Contextual Resources

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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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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