FLASHBACK TO 2010: “The ‘From Rain from Resource Workshop’ highlighted the importance of rainwater management to climate change adaptation and showcased examples from other areas that could be applied to the Okanagan,” stated Anna Warwick Sears, Executive Director of the Okanagan Basin Water Board

Note to Reader:

In October 2010, the 2-day From Rain to Resource Workshop: Managing Stormwater in a Changing  Climate brought together twenty-two expert speakers and panelists and more than 100 delegates from across British Columbia. Delegates included mayors and councillors, administrative staff, planners, engineers and consultants from around the province.

Held in Kelowna, the event was presented by the Okanagan Basin Water Board (OBWB) in partnership with the BC Water and Waste Association (BCWWA) and with funding support through Natural Resources Canada’s Regional Adaptation Collaboratives Program (RAC). Core content was provided by local governments involved in regional and inter-regional initiatives delivered under the umbrella of the Water Sustainability Action Plan for British Columbia.

In February 2011, the OBWB released a report that summarized a comprehensive set of recommendations that came out of the workshop. The report also provided an overview of the topics and case studies that were presented. Download a copy of From Rain to Resource 2010: Managing Stormwater in a Changing Climate.

Why  ‘From Rain to Resource 2010′?

“Extreme weather patterns, including higher rainfall intensities and more frequent flooding, are one of the projected outcomes of climate change. Managing stormwater effectively will be a critical climate change adaptation tool,” stated Anna Warwick Sears, Executive Director of the Okanagan Basin Water Board, in providing context for the OBWB decision to organize From Rain to Resource 2010.

“A key component of managing for storms is redesigning our approach to handling the more frequent, lighter rainfall events. Rainwater management keeps water on-site, improving water quality by reducing runoff pollution, allowing the rain to infiltrate and recharge aquifers, and establishing ways to harvest water for other uses. Rainwater management complements management of larger storm events, and reduces infrastructure requirements overall.”

“We spent the last half a century trying to control runoff with dikes, storm sewers, curbs and gutters. Now, increased development and increased storm intensity from climate change are increasing peak flows and altering the rules of the game. We can’t engineer away our problems fast enough, and have to look at other, lower impact solutions.”

“The Okanagan is particularly vulnerable to the impacts of unmanaged stormwater and rainwater because all surface water flows into the lake system that runs along the bottom of the valley—and that lake is a primary drinking water source.”

“Many positive and innovative developments in rainwater and stormwater management have not yet been introduced in Okanagan municipalities and rural areas. This workshop was held to highlight the importance of rainwater management to climate change adaptation and to showcase examples from other areas that could be applied to the Okanagan.”

Workshop Outcomes

A set of concrete recommendations for all levels of government were gathered from the workshop. Sixteen recommendations were organized under five categories. The complete set of resources is posted on the OBWB website. These resources include video clips of the keynote presentation by Brock Dolman, Director of the California-based WATER Institute. He introduced the BC audience to the concept of Conservation Hydrology when he spoke to Basins of Relations: Thinking Like a Watershed.

To Learn More:

Download a copy of From Rain to Resource 2010: Managing Stormwater in a Changing Climate.

To download an article that highlights key findings from the report, with emphasis on the recommendation that local governments incorporate the Water Balance Model into watershed planning, click on From Rain to Resource: Okanagan Basin Water Board releases report on ‘Managing Stormwater in a Changing Climate’

To access a comprehensive set of stories posted elsewhere on waterbucket.ca about the workshop, click on 2010 From Rain to Resource Workshop.

Rain to Resource Workshop Showcased
‘Beyond the Guidebook 2010’

The Rain to Resource Workshop was one of a series of regional events that were part of the rollout for Beyond the Guidebook 2010: Implementing a New Culture for Watershed Protection and Restoration in British Columbia. The five regional events are:

In her welcoming remarks at the workshop, Kelowna Mayor Sharon Shepherd connected the “convening for action” dots to Beyond the Guidebook 2010 — “In 2006 I was a member of a Mayors and Chairs Focus Group that yielded insights regarding how to lead and implement green infrastructure changes. Also, Kelowna was one of four cities – the others being Chilliwack, Surrey and Courtenay – that were early adopters of the Water Balance Model. Beyond the Guidebook 2010 was an outcome of this related initiative.”

Core Content for Rain to Resource Program

The majority of the workshop presentations were delivered by members of the “convening for action” partnership network, and were about case studies that are featured in Beyond the Guidebook 2010, in particular:

  • the experiences of these ‘convening for action’ partners: City of Surrey, District of North Vancouver, City of Courtenay, Capital Regional District, Metro Vancouver; and
  • these tools and resources: the Water Balance Model, the Topsoil Primer Set.

These “convening for action” case studies were supplemented by several other examples of innovative approaches to rainwater management, including presentations about experience in the BC Interior (e.g. City of Prince George) and within the Capital Region (Douglas Creek Watershed).

‘Design with Nature’ to Achieve Water Sustainability

“Water sustainability will be achieved through implementation of green infrastructure policies and practices,” stated Ted van der Gulik, Ministry of Agriculture, in his presentation at the Rain to Resource Workshop. “Released in June, Beyond the Guidebook 2010 tells an important story of how communities throughout British Columbia are striving to prepare for climate change, choose to live water smart and build greener communities.”

Ted van der gulik (120p) - 2005 photo“A decade ago, British Columbia made a conscious decision to follow an educational rather than prescriptive path to change the way that land is developed and water is used. The Province has provided a ‘design with nature’ policy framework that enables local governments to build and/or rebuild communities in balance with ecology.”

“Desired outcomes are: create liveable communities; protect stream health. They go hand in hand.”

Guiding Principles

British Columbia experience shows that achieving these inter-connected outcomes depends upon a local government capacity-building process that is founded on ten guiding principles:

  • Choose to be enabled.
  • Establish high expectations.
  • Embrace a shared vision.
  • Collaborate as a ‘regional team’.
  • Align and integrate efforts.
  • Celebrate innovation.
  • Connect with community advocates.
  • Develop local government talent.
  • Promote shared responsibility.
  • Change the land ethic for the better

“It takes time to change the local government culture. British Columbia communities now have the tools and the case study experience to ‘design with nature’. British Columbia is at a tipping point. Beyond the Guidebook 2010 sets the stage for ensuring that future settlement change (development) is in balance with ecology,” concluded Ted van der Gulik.

To Learn More:

Ted van der Gulik represented the “convening for action” partners in speaking to ‘Beyond the Guidebook 2010′. Download a PDF copy of his PowerPoint presentation slides: Beyond the Guidebook 20101: Implementing a New Culture for Watershed Protection and Restoration in British Columbia.