LIVING WATER SMART IN BRITISH COLUMBIA: “Cut through the rhetoric and recognize the importance of the stream in the landscape,” stated Tim Pringle, Chair of the Ecological Accounting Process initiative


Waterbucket eNews celebrates the leadership of individuals and organizations who are guided by the vision for Living Water Smart in British Columbia to build greener communities and adapt to a changing climate; and embrace “design with nature” approaches to reconnect people, land, fish, and water in altered landscapes. 

The edition published on May 10, 2022 addressed the question, what does “managing natural assets” actually mean in a municipal asset management context? Local governments need real numbers to deliver outcomes. EAP, the Ecological Accounting Process, meets this test by providing a number that can be incorporated in an annual Asset Management Budget for stream system maintenance.

Natural Asset Management: Cutting Through the Rhetoric

Management of “natural assets” within a local government’s Asset Management Strategy is an idea whose time has come. This statement sounds good but what does “managing natural assets” actually mean in the local government setting?

Rhetoric without meaningful context or content is not helpful. How concepts are explained is crucial. Use plain language. What is easily understood and can be measured gets implemented.

Visualize a Monday night meeting of a municipal Council and reflect on how Councils make decisions. The mindset and focus of Councillors are on what happens at the parcel scale. Also, how do you get buy-in from a Council for the add-on cost of “natural asset management” when local governments are already grappling with the financial challenges associated with the “infrastructure deficit” for watermains, sanitary sewers and roads?

To help a continuum of audiences come to grips with the questions as posed, the visual included below distils five cascading concepts. These underpin EAP, the Ecological Accounting Process.

EAP expresses stream system maintenance and management (M&M) as a measurable metric, the Riparian Deficit, which is the environmental equivalent of the Infrastructure Deficit. The riparian deficit is a measure of “loss of riparian integrity” due to land use intrusion into the regulated streamside setback zone.

EAP puts the environmental perspective on an equal footing with the engineering and accounting perspectives and thus bridges a gap.

Asset Management Context for EAP

In 2015, EAP was an idea. The methodology and metrics recognize the importance of the stream in the landscape. It has been a 6-year journey to test, refine and mainstream the EAP methodology and metrics through a building blocks program of applied research.

Water Balance Accounting, pillar number one, addresses changes on the land draining to the stream. Ecological Accounting, pillar number two, addresses changes within a stream corridor. Integration of the two is the goal.

Asset Management for Sustainable Service Delivery: A BC Framework provides local governments with an incentive to go down this path. The provincial expectation is that local governments would integrate “natural assets” into asset management processes. EAP shows them how to do it for stream systems and water assets such as wetlands.

To Learn More:

To read the complete story published on May 10th 2022, download a PDF copy of “Living Water Smart in British Columbia: Natural asset management… cutting through the rhetoric”.