LIVING WATER SMART IN BRITISH COLUMBIA: “Local governments have real data to quantify the financial value of streams as physical assets. This metric allows them to put streams into the basket of local government asset management responsibilities,” stated Tim Pringle, Chair of the Ecological Accounting Process (EAP) program

Note to Reader:

Waterbucket eNews celebrates the leadership of individuals and organizations who are guided by the Living Water Smart vision. The edition published on March 21, 2023 featured the story behind the story of the Nested Concepts graphic. The Partnership for Water Sustainability created it to help local governments move past rhetoric, address the disconnect between oversight of land use and responsibility for stream condition, and establish annual budgets for stream and riparian area restoration. 

The requirement that local governments have an Asset Management Plan addresses the disconnect between land use oversight and direct responsibility for maintenance and management of stream corridor condition

“If we know how to do a much better job of protecting ecological features and stream systems in our communities and on our landscape, then why aren’t we doing a better job? Why are streams still being degraded?” asked Tim Pringle, Chair of the Ecological Accounting Process (EAP) program, an initiative of the Partnership for Water Sustainability in British Columbia.

“Why do we still see policies and practices that compromise the integrity of stream corridor systems and impose a downstream financial liability upon communities? How do we change that?”

“These and other questions have driven development of the methodology and metrics for EAP, the Ecological Accounting Process. The methodology and metrics focus on the land underlying the natural asset. In the case of stream systems, this is the setback zone defined in B.C. provincial legislation – namely, the Riparian Areas Protection Regulation.”

Challenges of using a professional reliance model in environmental protection

The 2014 investigation and Striking a Balance report by the BC Ombudsperson identified “significant gaps between the process the provincial government had established when the Riparian Areas Protection Regulation was enacted and the level of oversight that was actually in place.”

Investigative Update: Striking a Balance (2022) states that “many of the issues we identified remain as pressing as they were in 2014; there is work ahead to ensure that the systemic issues are fully addressed.”

How do we change what we are doing on and to the landscape?

“In 2019, UBCM and the Ministry of Municipal Affairs formalized an expectation that local governments applying for provincial grants would integrate “natural assets” into their asset management processes. EAP shows them how to do it for stream systems and wetlands,” adds Kim Stephens, Partnership Executive Director.

“EAP provides local governments with the real numbers they need to deliver outcomes. In addition, effective communication tools are essential to convey core concepts in a way that is easy for audiences to absorb.”

“Eliminating the disconnect between oversight of land use and responsibility for stream condition comes down to this question: What is the number for the line item in a local government annual budget for community investment in maintenance and management (M&M) of stream systems?”

“The Partnership for Water Sustainability created the Nested Concepts graphic (below) to help local governments move past rhetoric and address the disconnect. The spotlight is on funding actions that achieve restoration of streamside protection zones.”

To Learn More:

To read the complete story published on March 21st 2023, download a PDF copy of Living Water Smart in British Columbia: Communities need annual budgets to tackle the Riparian Deficit along streams.