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Living Water Smart in BC

LIVING WATER SMART IN BRITISH COLUMBIA: “Many readers tell us that they are inspired by the stories that we share,” stated Kim Stephens, Waterbucket eNews Editor and Executive Director, Partnership for Water Sustainability in British Columbia (June 2021)


“Each week, from September through June, we celebrate the leadership of individuals and organizations who are guided by the vision for Living Water Smart, British Columbia’s Water Plan. Feature stories published weekly on Waterbucket eNews constitute a legacy resource. To make them readily accessible and sharable, many of these stories are now downloadable as report-style documents. In the Living Water Smart Series, featured authors explore specific themes, with an objective of helping others make a difference in the communities in which they live,” stated Kim Stephens.

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LIVING WATER SMART IN BRITISH COLUMBIA: “We will be successful when community development is guided by a vision that  embraces ‘design with nature’ approaches to reconnect people, land, fish, and water in altered landscapes,” stated Peter Law, a Founding Director of the Partnership for Water Sustainability, when he provided context for the Partnership’s Living Water Smart Series (May 2021)


“Released in 2008, Living Water Smart was the provincial government’s call to action, and to this day transcends governments. With Living Water Smart as its starting point, the Partnership has a primary goal, to build bridges of understanding and pass the baton from the past to the present and future. The Living Water Smart Series is an integral part of the knowledge-transfer process. In the Series, featured authors explore specific themes, with an objective of connecting dots. The Partnership goal is to facilitate understanding of how to build greener communities and adapt to a changing climate,” stated Peter Law.

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LIVING WATER SMART IN BRITISH COLUMBIA: “When someone with expertise often retires their managers ‘don’t know what they have lost until it is gone’ and even then they might not know. That person has left with all their knowledge and connections,” stated Kate Rushton, UK-based community strategist


“Two years ago I attended my first intergenerational innovation challenge. Afterwards, I occasionally thought about this new way of working. It sparked my interest in intergenerational co-creation. Not only as a way to build bridges between generations but as a way to innovate in general. By using an older adult’s experience-based knowledge, which is known also known as deep smarts, and the younger generation’s fresh eyes and new perspectives intergenerational co-creation can help create more rounded solutions,” stated Kate Rushton.

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LIVING WATER SMART IN BRITISH COLUMBIA: “Through my readings and discussions with people in the Metro Vancouver region area, I have found that there is a sense of pragmatism among researchers, urban managers, and advocates,” stated Charles Axelesson, PhD candidate, University of Venice


“My discussions with Kim Stephens have helped me to re-evaluate how I discuss my own research. I was taking some of the terminology for granted as it is repeated in the literature time and time again but words like ‘stormwater’, ‘rainwater’ and ‘drainage’ can have such powerful unconscious effects on how you interpret the discussions and they can mean different things to different stakeholders in the system. These terminology choices ultimately have a large effect in science communication and the message you intend to convey. I find these differences interesting and yet more proof that I love science communication,” stated Charles Axelsson.

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ADJUSTING TO LONGER AND DRIER SUMMERS IN BRITSH COLUMBIA: “Since 2000, summer precipitation has dropped about 20 per cent. This means we need to be far more conscientious about summer water use,” stated Hans Schreier, a professor emeritus of land and water systems at the University of British Columbia (July 2021)


Climate change has aggravated an existing vulnerability related to seasonal supply of water in BC. “Most long-term climate stations within the Lower Mainland region of British Columbia have a 50 to 75-year record. Over this time period, there had been an increasing trend in summer precipitation (May-Aug) until around 2000. Since that time (2000-2020), however, there has been a step change to a lower rate of precipitation of around 20 percent,” explained Hans Schreier.

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LIVING WATER SMART IN BRITISH COLUMBIA: “If ‘someone’ does not ‘fix’ the groundwater licensing problem, it will get messy for everyone after March 1, 2022. It seems inevitable that government will be forced to act against unlicenced non-domestic groundwater use – based on fairness to those who did apply,” stated Ted van der Gulik, President of the Partnership for Water Sustainability (July 2021)


“The number of new groundwater users is a minor fraction of the 16,000 historical groundwater users. Thus, new groundwater use is a more manageable segment to tackle before March 1, 2022. If government would follow through with compliance checking for ‘new’ unauthorized water uses, it would certainly send a message and a wake-up call to ALL water users – especially if accompanied by a concerted education and communication effort. What would the succinct message be? It would be that government intends to systematically check compliance, now and beyond March 1, 2022,” suggested Ted van der Gulik.

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LIVING WATER SMART IN BRITISH COLUMBIA: “Passion is the glue for collaboration when everyone shares a common set of values and a vision for reconnecting people, land and water,” stated Paul Chapman, Chair, when he reflected on the remarkable team effort during the time of COVID to produce Watershed Moments 2020, the Video Trilogy Series


“Producing three videos in just six months required an incredible commitment by all 15 members of the Watershed Moments Team . As I reflect on all three modules in the series, the thread that attaches them all is the different layers of responsibility that team members represent. Yet most team members only knew a few of the other members when we began our sprint to create the series. Through the shared experience of doing something bold and original, everyone connected and bonded in a way that would not have happened without COVID,” stated Paul Chapman.

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LIVING WATER SMART IN BRITISH COLUMBIA: “Everyone has a role to play in advancing Green Infrastructure implementation as we collectively travel along a path to find upstream, proactive solutions to climate change impacts and growing urban centres,” stated Dr. Joanna Ashworth, co-developer of the self-directed online course on Green Infrastructure Policy, Design and Practice launched by Simon Fraser University in 2021


Joanna Ashworth has a vision that a region-wide rain garden program would build connections between and among neighbours, citizens, community organizations, schools, and local governments. “Every significant innovation results from a magical combination of timing, preparation and luck. So true for the creation of a new online course on Green Infrastructure, or GI, at Simon Fraser University. The course is designed to meet the learning needs of the various professional disciplines who have the power to influence the integration of GI systems into city and regional infrastructure,” stated Joanna Asheworth.

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LIVING WATER SMART IN BRITISH COLUMBIA: “Partnerships with local governments and others are essential. They allow students to work on collaborative projects. Everyone benefits,” stated Graham Sakaki, Research & Community Engagement Manager, Mount Arrowsmith Biosphere Region Research Institute at Vancouver Island University


“Our collaboration with regional partners is guided by a vision that working together we can increase the environmental, social, cultural, and economic sustainability of the biosphere region. VIU students have assisted with working on all the Ecological Accounting Process case study projects that have been completed in partnership with MABRRI. Both undergraduates and graduates have assisted with these projects,” stated Graham Sakaki.

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LIVING WATER SMART IN BRITISH COLUMBIA: “There is a context that allowed Mike Wall to see an opportunity and take it on. The right questions were asked. The right professionals were on board. This combination led to self-evident success. The takeaway message is to understand your role, understand what is possible, and then find the opportunities,” stated Gracelyn Shannon, asset management professional (June 2021)


“Michael Wall is the Manager of Strategic Initiatives and Asset Management at qathet Regional District. On one of Michael’s projects in 2020, the team was presented with an $850,000 engineered solution to manage runoff at the landfill closure site. Michael and his team questioned the proposed engineered solution and wondered if there may be a way to better use the surrounding forest instead. Michael and a small army of local professionals were able to develop a natural asset solution to manage the landfill runoff. The new green infrastructure plan saved $700,000 of taxpayer money and 0.5 hectares of second growth forest,” stated Gracelyn Shannon.

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