Water-Centric Planning

Plan with a view to water – whether for a single site, a region or the entire province. Choose to live water smart. Prepare communities for a changing climate. What happens on the land matters – therefore, take into account potential impacts of land use and community design decisions on watershed function. Look at water through different lenses. When collaboration is a common or shared value, the right mix of people and perspectives will create the conditions for change.

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Water-Centric Planning Community-of-Interest

“Water-centric planning means planning with a view to water – whether for a single site or the entire province. At the core of the approach is a water balance way-of-thinking and acting. The underpinning premise is that resource, land use and community design decisions will be made with an eye towards their potential impact on the watershed,” explains Kim Stephens.

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“Watershed / Landscape-based Approach to Community Planning” – genesis of water-centric planning in BC

Published in March 2002 by the Greater Vancouver Regional District, the “Watershed / Landscape-Based Approach to Community Planning” was developed by an interdisciplinary working group and is the genesis of “water-centric planning”. “An important message is that planning and implementation involves cooperation among all orders of government as well as the non-government and private sectors,” stated Erik Karlsen.

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IMPROVING WHERE WE LIVE: “Engagement of community through stewardship is a credible formula to be encouraged and mainstreamed at every opportunity,” states Eric Bonham – as a Director in the B.C. Ministry of Environment in the 1990s, Eric oversaw the highly successful Urban Salmon Habitat Program

“Stewardship operates under a different dynamic than the private sector or government. Stewards are drawn together for a common cause, like-minded individuals with a vision for the greater good,” states Eric Bonham. “This purpose is not to be found in the policy manuals of government, nor in regulations or legislation. Rather, it is built upon an enthusiastic personal commitment and passion by a band of individuals to make a difference. Financial gain is not a factor, nor is fame, and hard work is not grudged.”

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WATERSHED HEALTH AND YOU: At the Parksville 2019 Symposium, Gilles Wendling elaborates on “Groundwater & Surface Water Interaction in the Englishman River Watershed: One Water – Always Moving”

Because he looked at groundwater differently in the Englishman River, Dr. Gilles Wendling has advanced the science and he has developed a practical application of water balance thinking. His contributions to science-based understanding extend beyond the technical and into the communication and education realm. His work provides a bridge between rainfall and stream health.

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ENGLISHMAN RIVER WATER SERVICE: At the Parksville 2019 Symposium, Vaughan Figueira elaborates on “A Balancing Act – Regional Bulk Water Supply Needs & Environmental Flow Requirements to Sustain Aquatic Resources”

“The location of a new water intake site is a major piece of the water supply puzzle. The location is of interest to many in our community and First Nations have a traditional link to the river,” states Vaughan Figueira. “Using a sustainable approach weighing environmental, financial and social factors and in consultation with Department of Fisheries and Oceans, health authorities, provincial fisheries and regulators, the best location for a river intake is just above Highway 19.”

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CITIZEN SCIENCE IN ACTION, PROTECTING BC HABITAT: “The search was on for ways to make a bigger impact. This led to North Shore Streamkeepers asking DFO for ‘high value targets’ for enhancement. Mosquito Creek was identified as one of the best opportunities on the North Shore,” wrote Barbara Frisken and Glen Parker

Stewardship operates under a different dynamic than the private sector or government. Stewards are drawn together for a common cause, like-minded individuals with a vision for the greater good. “As members of North Shore Streamkeepers (NSSK), we are proud to be part of a province-wide network of stewardship groups and pleased to have the opportunity to share some of our stories,” stated Barbara Frisken.

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CITIZEN SCIENCE IN ACTION, PROTECTING BC HABITAT: “Collaboration taps into the passion and ingenuity of volunteers who are driven by commitment,” wrote Eric Bonham in an opinion piece (published in the Vancouver Province, February 2019)

“Throughout British Columbia, an amazing network of volunteer groups is working to protect, restore and enhance local streams,” states Eric Bonham. “Teamwork for the common good is a powerful and often transformative experience, particularly when a longer term vision for a local creekshed engages multiple interests, disciplines and local government. Today, the scope of involvement and influence of stream stewards is expanding beyond the creek channel. What happens on the land matters to streams.”

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AN INSURANCE INDUSTRY PERSPECTIVE ON DOING BUSINESS DIFFERENTLY: “By focusing on adapting to climate change we can work together constructively to keep Canadians out of harm’s way,” wrote Craig Stewart in an opinion piece published in the Financial Post

Canadians are starting to get used to news stories about springtime flooding. Although flooding has and will always happen, the frequency and intensity of floods are becoming more prolific. “The IBC-sponsored report, Combating Canada’s Rising Floods Costs: Natural infrastructure is an underutilized option, provides a framework for making decisions about the return on investment of green infrastructure deployed as a climate-adaptation measure,” wrote Craig Stewart.

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“In October, 2018, faculty engaged in water research from a broad range of disciplines across the UBC Okanagan campus welcomed Michael Blackstock to share his theory of Blue Ecology and interweaving Indigenous and western science,” reports Marni Turek

“It is interesting to hear the journey from which Michael’s ideas on water leadership evolved, starting with asking what he refers to as a deceptively simple question, “What is water?”. Seeking out opportunities to enrich thinking and learning around water values is important and the Water Research Network is very appreciative for Michael sharing his truly inspirational views and message of hope for a new attitude… one that embraces a water-first approach,” stated Marni Turek.

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“Blue Ecology is a means to focus, with new watery eyes, on the current crisis of climate change. A new culture of water is needed in order for humans to adapt,” wrote Michael Blackstock, a champion for interweaving Indigenous Cultural Knowledge and Western Science

“Hydrologists are encouraged to embrace the companion Blue Ecology water cycle that is meant to enhance Western science’s hydrological cycle by providing a holistic cultural context. Hydrologists and water managers could also communicate complex climate change impacts to the public, using common sense terms. Hydrologists and water managers can use the hydrological and Blue Ecology cycles to help explain how and why the climate is changing. Water is a core human interest upon which we can build collaborative cross-cultural climate change strategies,” stated Michael Blackstock.

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LIFE AFTER CARBON: “Part of urban renaturing is a restorative exercise, a way to reinstate balance and sustainability to the city’s relationship with nature,” wrote John Cleveland, in a book about cities that are reinventing themselves to combat climate change (published in 2018)

“A number of cities have launched efforts to protect and restore the ecosystems and biodiversity of their urban regions. They want to ensure and enhance the delivery of essential services provided by nature outside, as well as inside, their boundaries,” wrote John Cleveland. “The growing urban attention to ecosystems extends to maintaining and increasing an urban region’s biodiversity, which is key to maintaining ecosystem health. Cities generally use a combination of regulation and investments to manage ecosystems.”

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EARTH FACES WIDESPREAD DROUGHT: “While, as expected, rainfall is increasing with global warming — drier soil means water is being absorbed and made useless, rather than replenishing the earth’s vital river systems,” says Professor Ashish Sharma of the University of New South Wales

A global study has found a paradox: our water supplies are shrinking at the same time as climate change is generating more intense rain. And the culprit is the drying of soils, say researchers, pointing to a world where drought-like conditions will become the new normal, especially in regions that are already dry. “While the more extreme, life threatening floods and storms are increasing, the more moderate floods which fill dams and reservoirs, and are the basis for our water supply, are reducing with the rise in global temperatures,” stated Ashish Sharma.

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