Water-Centric Planning

Plan with a view to water – whether for a single site, a region or the entire province. Choose to live water smart. Prepare communities for a changing climate. What happens on the land matters – therefore, take into account potential impacts of land use and community design decisions on watershed function. Look at water through different lenses. When collaboration is a common or shared value, the right mix of people and perspectives will create the conditions for change.

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Water-Centric Planning Community-of-Interest

“Water-centric planning means planning with a view to water – whether for a single site or the entire province. At the core of the approach is a water balance way-of-thinking and acting. The underpinning premise is that resource, land use and community design decisions will be made with an eye towards their potential impact on the watershed,” explains Kim Stephens.

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“Watershed / Landscape-based Approach to Community Planning” – genesis of water-centric planning in BC

Published in March 2002 by the Greater Vancouver Regional District, the “Watershed / Landscape-Based Approach to Community Planning” was developed by an interdisciplinary working group and is the genesis of “water-centric planning”. “An important message is that planning and implementation involves cooperation among all orders of government as well as the non-government and private sectors,” stated Erik Karlsen.

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AN INSURANCE INDUSTRY PERSPECTIVE ON DOING BUSINESS DIFFERENTLY: “By focusing on adapting to climate change we can work together constructively to keep Canadians out of harm’s way,” wrote Craig Stewart in an opinion piece published in the Financial Post

Canadians are starting to get used to news stories about springtime flooding. Although flooding has and will always happen, the frequency and intensity of floods are becoming more prolific. “The IBC-sponsored report, Combating Canada’s Rising Floods Costs: Natural infrastructure is an underutilized option, provides a framework for making decisions about the return on investment of green infrastructure deployed as a climate-adaptation measure,” wrote Craig Stewart.

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“In October, 2018, faculty engaged in water research from a broad range of disciplines across the UBC Okanagan campus welcomed Michael Blackstock to share his theory of Blue Ecology and interweaving Indigenous and western science,” reports Marni Turek

“It is interesting to hear the journey from which Michael’s ideas on water leadership evolved, starting with asking what he refers to as a deceptively simple question, “What is water?”. Seeking out opportunities to enrich thinking and learning around water values is important and the Water Research Network is very appreciative for Michael sharing his truly inspirational views and message of hope for a new attitude… one that embraces a water-first approach,” stated Marni Turek.

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“Blue Ecology is a means to focus, with new watery eyes, on the current crisis of climate change. A new culture of water is needed in order for humans to adapt,” wrote Michael Blackstock, a champion for interweaving Indigenous Cultural Knowledge and Western Science

“Hydrologists are encouraged to embrace the companion Blue Ecology water cycle that is meant to enhance Western science’s hydrological cycle by providing a holistic cultural context. Hydrologists and water managers could also communicate complex climate change impacts to the public, using common sense terms. Hydrologists and water managers can use the hydrological and Blue Ecology cycles to help explain how and why the climate is changing. Water is a core human interest upon which we can build collaborative cross-cultural climate change strategies,” stated Michael Blackstock.

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LIFE AFTER CARBON: “Part of urban renaturing is a restorative exercise, a way to reinstate balance and sustainability to the city’s relationship with nature,” wrote John Cleveland, in a book about cities that are reinventing themselves to combat climate change (published in 2018)

“A number of cities have launched efforts to protect and restore the ecosystems and biodiversity of their urban regions. They want to ensure and enhance the delivery of essential services provided by nature outside, as well as inside, their boundaries,” wrote John Cleveland. “The growing urban attention to ecosystems extends to maintaining and increasing an urban region’s biodiversity, which is key to maintaining ecosystem health. Cities generally use a combination of regulation and investments to manage ecosystems.”

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EARTH FACES WIDESPREAD DROUGHT: “While, as expected, rainfall is increasing with global warming — drier soil means water is being absorbed and made useless, rather than replenishing the earth’s vital river systems,” says Professor Ashish Sharma of the University of New South Wales

A global study has found a paradox: our water supplies are shrinking at the same time as climate change is generating more intense rain. And the culprit is the drying of soils, say researchers, pointing to a world where drought-like conditions will become the new normal, especially in regions that are already dry. “While the more extreme, life threatening floods and storms are increasing, the more moderate floods which fill dams and reservoirs, and are the basis for our water supply, are reducing with the rise in global temperatures,” stated Ashish Sharma.

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REPORT ON A DECADE OF CUTTING EDGE RESEARCH: “We plan to work with partners to shape the future of America’s Water as a global example for climate resilience, and assured and affordable water supply,” stated Dr. Umanu Lall, Director of the Columbia University Water Center (December 2018)

“The initial mission at launch was to study, assess, understand and improve global water sustainability. It was one of the first academic efforts at a Global Water Initiative,” stated Dr. Umanu Lall. “Questions as to the state of water in the USA led to the birth of the America’s Water Initiative. This has led us to an exciting discovery of the state of water, climate induced risks, the water-energy-food nexus, the state of drinking water and clean water, and to new initiatives towards solutions for water infrastructure that assure affordable human and ecological health.”

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THE STORY OF 2018 WAS CLIMATE CHANGE: “To anyone who worries about making a case for climate action based on the weather, I would simply ask: Do you have a better idea?” – David Leonhardt, New York Times

“A global heat wave. Extreme rainstorms. Severe droughts. Rapidly intensifying Gulf Coast storms. The deadliest wildfire in California history. And a presidential administration that’s trying to make the problem worse. There were more obvious big news stories than climate change in 2018. But there weren’t any more important stories, in my view. That’s why it is my choice for the top story of the year. It’s the one most likely to affect the lives of future generations,” wrote David Leonhardt.

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FLASHBACK TO 2013: “The Primer on Land Development Process in British Columbia supports implementation of targets and actions listed in Living Water Smart – these establish expectations as to how land will be developed,” stated Tim Pringle when the Primer was released by the Partnership for Water Sustainability at the 2013 Annual Convention of the Union of BC Municipalities

“The Primer is a ‘bridging document’ because it illustrates how to seamlessly integrate the legal and administrative parts of the Land Development Process through the designing with nature and rainwater management lens,” stated Tim Pringle. “While much attention is given to the technical and legal aspects, we are not aware of anyone who has addressed administration. This piece of the puzzle is the key to implementation of effective rainwater management systems on private property.”

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FLASHBACK TO 2012: “The Primer on Integrated Rainwater and Groundwater Management provides local governments on Vancouver Island, and beyond, with guidance for implementation of Living Water Smart principles on the ground,” stated Ted van der Gulik

“The federal-provincial Regional Adaptation Collaboratives (RACs) Program
provided funding for development of this Primer. The purpose of the RACs
Program is to support coordinated action towards advancing regional climate
change adaptation decision-making,” stated Ted van der Gulik. “The Primer incorporates the findings of a precedent-setting groundwater research project undertaken by the Mid Vancouver Island Habitat Enhancement Society.”

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ARCTIC REPORT CARD: “The Arctic is undergoing its most unprecedented transition in human history. We’re seeing this continued increase of warmth pervading across the entire Arctic system,” said Dr. Emily Osborne, an official with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (December 2018)

“In 2018, warming air and ocean temperatures continued to drive broad long-term change across the polar region, pushing the Arctic into uncharted territory,” stated Emily Osborne. The warmer Arctic air causes the jet stream to become “sluggish and unusually wavy”. That has possible connections to extreme weather events elsewhere on the globe, including last winter’s severe storms in the United States and a bitter cold spell in Europe known as the “Beast From the East.” The rapid warming in the upper north, known as Arctic amplification, is tied to many factors.

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