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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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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REPORT ON A DECADE OF CUTTING EDGE RESEARCH: “We plan to work with partners to shape the future of America’s Water as a global example for climate resilience, and assured and affordable water supply,” stated Dr. Umanu Lall, Director of the Columbia University Water Center (December 2018)

“The initial mission at launch was to study, assess, understand and improve global water sustainability. It was one of the first academic efforts at a Global Water Initiative,” stated Dr. Umanu Lall. “Questions as to the state of water in the USA led to the birth of the America’s Water Initiative. This has led us to an exciting discovery of the state of water, climate induced risks, the water-energy-food nexus, the state of drinking water and clean water, and to new initiatives towards solutions for water infrastructure that assure affordable human and ecological health.”

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THE STORY OF 2018 WAS CLIMATE CHANGE: “To anyone who worries about making a case for climate action based on the weather, I would simply ask: Do you have a better idea?” – David Leonhardt, New York Times

“A global heat wave. Extreme rainstorms. Severe droughts. Rapidly intensifying Gulf Coast storms. The deadliest wildfire in California history. And a presidential administration that’s trying to make the problem worse. There were more obvious big news stories than climate change in 2018. But there weren’t any more important stories, in my view. That’s why it is my choice for the top story of the year. It’s the one most likely to affect the lives of future generations,” wrote David Leonhardt.

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FLASHBACK TO 2013: “The Primer on Land Development Process in British Columbia supports implementation of targets and actions listed in Living Water Smart – these establish expectations as to how land will be developed,” stated Tim Pringle when the Primer was released by the Partnership for Water Sustainability at the 2013 Annual Convention of the Union of BC Municipalities

“The Primer is a ‘bridging document’ because it illustrates how to seamlessly integrate the legal and administrative parts of the Land Development Process through the designing with nature and rainwater management lens,” stated Tim Pringle. “While much attention is given to the technical and legal aspects, we are not aware of anyone who has addressed administration. This piece of the puzzle is the key to implementation of effective rainwater management systems on private property.”

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FLASHBACK TO 2012: “The Primer on Integrated Rainwater and Groundwater Management provides local governments on Vancouver Island, and beyond, with guidance for implementation of Living Water Smart principles on the ground,” stated Ted van der Gulik

“The federal-provincial Regional Adaptation Collaboratives (RACs) Program
provided funding for development of this Primer. The purpose of the RACs
Program is to support coordinated action towards advancing regional climate
change adaptation decision-making,” stated Ted van der Gulik. “The Primer incorporates the findings of a precedent-setting groundwater research project undertaken by the Mid Vancouver Island Habitat Enhancement Society.”

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ARCTIC REPORT CARD: “The Arctic is undergoing its most unprecedented transition in human history. We’re seeing this continued increase of warmth pervading across the entire Arctic system,” said Dr. Emily Osborne, an official with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (December 2018)

“In 2018, warming air and ocean temperatures continued to drive broad long-term change across the polar region, pushing the Arctic into uncharted territory,” stated Emily Osborne. The warmer Arctic air causes the jet stream to become “sluggish and unusually wavy”. That has possible connections to extreme weather events elsewhere on the globe, including last winter’s severe storms in the United States and a bitter cold spell in Europe known as the “Beast From the East.” The rapid warming in the upper north, known as Arctic amplification, is tied to many factors.

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LIVING WATER SMART IN BRITISH COLUMBIA: While BC communities may not be able to restore lost biodiversity, they can certainly halt its decline and consciously direct efforts toward a richer future, that is: “make where we live better” (a call to action by those who will be attending the Parksville 2019 Symposium on April 2-3-4)

“The rhythms of water are changing in British Columbia. What happens on the land in the creekshed matters to streams – thus, the time has come to reconnect hydrology and ecology! Join delegates from the east coast of Vancouver Island and beyond, and attend a ‘watershed moment’ in Parksville,” stated John Finnie, Chair, Parksville 2019 Symposium Organizing Committee.

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LIVING WATER SMART IN BRITISH COLUMBIA: In 2008, Premier Campbell issued a call to action: “All land and water managers will know what makes a stream healthy, and therefore be able to help land and water users factor in new approaches to securing stream health and the full range of stream benefits.”

Water defines British Columbia, and the rhythms of water are changing. We are at a tipping point. Will we adapt? Will we restore balance to the water cycle? How? Will we get it right? Yes – provided the right people are in the right place at the right time to apply an understanding of science and technology to make better decisions. The challenge for engineers is to grasp the inherent complexity and unpredictability of working with natural systems. Engineers are always trying to shove nature into some form that would make it predictable and controllable.

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KUS-KUS-SUM RESTORATION ON THE COURTENAY RIVER ON VANCOUVER ISLAND: “Restoration will have tremendous cultural, environmental, social, and economic benefits, and the community has shown a high level of enthusiasm over the future vision for this site,” stated David Allen, CAO, City of Courtenay

A historic milestone in reconciliation and intergovernmental relations has taken place in the Comox Valley. A First Nation, a municipality and an environmental non-profit signed a MOU to purchase, restore and manage a key property in the heart of their community. “Working collaboratively with Project Watershed and K’ómoks First Nation has been an essential component of this project. As we move forward through the formal agreement process we look forward to building on this strong relationship with our partners,” stated David Allen.

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