SHIFTING CURRENTS: How the Water Sustainability Act is Already Influencing Water Management in British Columbia (Keynote Address by Partnership for Water Sustainability at Landscape Architects Annual Conference, April 2016)

Note to Reader:

“Shifting Currents” was the theme for the 2016 annual conference of the British Columbia Society of Landscape Architects (BCSLA). The spotlight was on the influence water has in all aspects of our lives and landscapes. The keynote address was a co-presentation by Kim Stephens and Ted van der Gulik of the Partnership for Water Sustainability in BC. Kim is the Executive Director and Ted is the President.

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Shifting Currents: Rethinking Our Relationship with Water

“The goal of the 2016 BCSLA Conference was to examine the influence water has in all aspects of our lives and landscapes and the potential consequences climate change will have in our relationship with, reaction to, and management of water in our landscapes,” reports Tara Culham, BCSLA Executive Director.

“Growing demands for water and the ramifications of climate change are having great influence on our relationships with, access to, and use of water in our lives and landscapes. Water use restrictions in 2015 in many BC urban areas are but one example of the shifting circumstances that landscape architects and other professionals need to consider in the planning, development, and maintenance of projects, infrastructure, and landscapes.”

“Kim Stephens and Ted van der Gulik were terrific in co-presenting the Keynote Address, and featuring demonstrations of two web-based tools for improved water management – the Water Balance Express for Landowners and the Agriculture Water Licence Calculator.”

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Keynote Structure

“We structured the keynote presentation in three parts: Context, Environmental Flows, and Groundwater Licensing,” explains Kim Stephens.

“In part one, we introduced the Water Sustainability Act. Collaboration with Ted White, the lead person for the Ministry of Environment, allowed us to create an informed storyline for the BCSLA audience.”

“We used a selection of slides from previous Ministry rollout presentations so that I could paint an appropriate picture of the process for implementing regulations to support the Water Sustainability Act.”

“Part one foreshadowed how we would connect the dots to the Express (environmental flows) and to the Calculator (groundwater licensing).

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To Learn More:

Download a PDF copy of How the Water Sustainability Act is Already Influencing Water Management in British Columbia to view the storyline for the keynote co-presentation by Kim Stephens and Ted van der Gulik.

And then, click on these links:

“Slow, Sink and Spread Rainwater Runoff” – online video tutorial guides homeowners in use of Water Balance Express.

Water Licensing Calculator: Managing Water as One Resource in British Columbia

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Water Balance Express Video

“In part two, I connected the dots between the environmental flow provisions of the Act and the Water Balance Express. This set the scene for the first public showing of a 7-minute tutorial video. In the video, Julie Wilson of UBC leads users through a step-by-step explanation of how to use this online tool.”

“Funded by Metro Vancouver and a federal-provincial program for climate change adaptation, the Express helps landowners quantify how well their properties slow, sink and spread rainwater runoff and do their share to meet pre-set watershed targets for volume, infiltration and flow.”

“A key message is that use of the Express encourages the general public to think about water in a different way, by conceptualizing how it behaves as it moves on and around their properties.”

“Tool users can see how the built environment (roofs, driveway) and natural features (soil type, depth, vegetation) change the movement or storage of that water.”

“We approached the Express demonstration within the Keynote Address as a focus group opportunity. We were so pleased that the video held the audience attention. That was a key test and measure of effectiveness. The feedback during the open forum part of the keynote was enthusiastic.”

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Groundwater Licensing

In part three, Ted van der Gulik explained the newly enacted requirements for licensing of groundwater use in British Columbia.

“Groundwater licensing came into force on February 29, 2016. This means that 20,000 existing non-domestic wells must now apply for a licence.  Most are in the agriculture sector,” stated Ted van der Gulik in his presentation.

28_Water Calculator_draft versionThe Partnership for Water Sustainability in BC is assisting the Province with implementation and developed the BC Agriculture Water Calculator.”

“The calculator works for any and all properties in the province. Just go to the website, type an address, and zoom in on that property.  It is that easy. The tool then instantly generates both the annual water demand and the peak irrigation flow rate for the property selected.”

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About Ted van der Gulik & Kim Stephens

Ted van der Gulik and Kim Stephens have been a “water duo” since 1988. Both are engineers. Kim provides the urban perspective and Ted the agricultural. Their collaboration started with the  Okanagan Demand-Side Water Management Strategy, released in 1990.

Triggered by the 1987 drought, this landmark study was the genesis for water initiatives subsequently championed by Ted over the course of his career in government. In particular, the Okanagan strategy eventually led to development of the Agriculture Water Demand Model which is currently in the final stages of being implemented province-wide.

Notably, Ted and Kim were members of the Ministry of Environment Working Group that developed A Water Conservation Strategy for British Columbia, released in 1998.

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Ted retired from government in 2014 as Senior Engineer in the Ministry of Agriculture. During his 35-year career, Ted received three Premier’s Awards for Innovation and Excellence. Upon retirement, he was honoured with a Premier’s Legacy Award for lifetime achievement; and he was inducted by the Premier into the British Columbia Public Service Hall of Excellence.

Ted has an international reputation for his leading-edge work in agricultural water resource management. The many guides and manuals he has written are used locally and around the world.

Ted is a founding Director of the Partnership for Water Sustainability. He has been Partnership President since 2014.

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Prior to embarking on his current provincial role in 2003, Kim Stephens was a vice-president and project manager with CH2M Hill, one of North America’s largest environmental engineering organizations.

In 2003, Kim made a career change when he was asked by the provincial government to develop the Water Sustainability Action Plan for British Columbia, released in 2004. Ever since, Kim has been responsible for Action Plan program delivery and evolution.

Kim has received wide recognition for his pioneering efforts. This includes a Premier’s Award for Excellence and Innovation (2009). Also, he has been invited to speak on ‘the BC experience’ and make keynote presentations at forums throughout North America, as well as in Australia (2001, 2016).

Ted van der Gulik presented the Groundwater Licensing Tool

Ted van der Gulik presented the Groundwater Licensing Tool