LIVING WATER SMART IN BRITISH COLUMBIA: “The Regional District of Nanaimo’s ultimate vision is to support land use decision-making with local water information. In the next decade, the DWWP program will further hydrology-focused efforts and add the new lens of ecosystem financial valuation of natural watershed assets,” stated Julie Pisani, Program Coordinator, Drinking Water & Watershed Protection Program


The edition of Waterbucket eNews published on May 4, 2021 featured the financial case for the ecological services provided by the Millstone River in the Regional District of Nanaimo. The week before, the RDN Regional Board had established a BC-first when it approved this recommendation by staff:

“That the Millstone River Ecological Accounting Process report be used to inform future Corporate Asset Management Planning.”

The driver for EAP, the Ecological Accounting Process, is degradation of stream channels and streamside protection areas. EAP addresses the elephant in the room which is the unfunded cost (hence liability) to protect, remediate or enhance stream systems in urban and rural landscapes.

On May 4th, the Partnership for Water Sustainability released Millstone River – A Natural Commons in the Regional District of Nanaimo: Operationalizing the Ecological Accounting Process for Financial Valuation of Stream Corridor Systems within an Asset Management Plan, the fifth in a series of reports on EAP demonstration applications.

An Overview of the Millstone River EAP Project

“The Millstone River and EAP project are a vignette for the bigger mandate of the Regional District of Nanaimo’s Drinking Water and Watershed Protection program (DWWP). Both demonstrate project level partnerships with stewardship groups; as well as partnerships across local government jurisdictions,” stated Julie Pisani, DWWP Program Coordinator.

“Engaging a project steering committee and conducting a community survey on how landowners nearby to the stream value its presence and understand its worth, were important qualitative inputs alongside the number-crunching.”

“Through this process, the importance of riparian vegetation was highlighted and led to an additional desktop assessment of riparian cover in the river corridor, which provides a high-level basis for strategizing where to prioritize investment in restoration of riparian woodlands to improve the health and functioning condition of the river.”

To Learn More:

To read the complete article released in May 2021, download a PDF copy of Living Water Smart in British Columbia: Accounting for Stream Systems in Asset Management.

A Stream is a Land Use 

The EAP methodology focuses on the historical and current land use practices that have changed landscapes, modified hydrology, and have led to present-day community perceptions of the worth of the stream or creekshed and the ecological services it provides. A whole-system understanding is the starting point for developing meaningful metrics,” stated Tim Pringle EAP Chair.

“A central idea of the EAP methodology is that a stream is a land use. If the stream did not exist, the land it occupies would be in the same use as nearby development. A stream is a land use because the area of the setback zone is defined in regulations.”

EAP, the Ecological Accounting Process, is a Game-Changer

EAP satisfies a local government need for a financial methodology and metrics for valuation of ecological assets. Most importantly, EAP interweaves the financial, social and ecological perspectives within a single number,” stated Kim Stephens, Waterbucket eNews Editor and Executive Director, Partnership for Water Sustainability in British Columbia.

“This number is defined as the Natural Commons Asset (NCA) value. The end goal is an annual budget for ‘maintenance and management’ (M&M) of stream systems.”

“The NCA value puts the discussion of natural assets (stream systems) on an equal footing with constructed assets (physical infrastructure). This is a game-chamber. Environmental planners now have a starting point for a conversation with engineers and accountants about the services that natural and constructed assets both provide.”

To Learn More:

To read the complete article published in May 2021, download a PDF copy of Living Water Smart in British Columbia: Accounting for Stream Systems in Asset Management.

To delve into the details of the Millstone River EAP project, download a copy of Millstone River – A Natural Commons in the Regional District of Nanaimo