Category:

Living Water Smart: The Series

LIVING WATER SMART IN BRITISH COLUMBIA: “Over the years, my thinking has evolved – from thinking ‘so why should I care’, to appreciating that legally vesting water is ultra important because of how it translates into what government can and cannot do operationally,” stated Mike Wei, former Deputy Comptroller of Water Rights with the BC Ministry of Environment, in the second article in a series on challenges and gaps in the Water Sustainability Act (April 2022)


“In a nutshell, ‘vesting’ is the legal concept that has historically been used to establish the government’s authority to write the laws that govern water use in BC. This means that any use of water that is unvested remains outside of those provincial laws. Vesting all water does not mean the use of every drop will or needs to be regulated. That concern is a red herring. The real issue centres on what government cannot do when the water use involves unvested water. The concern should be whether a jurisdictional gap in the WSA has a domino effect with the potential for unintended consequences,” stated Mike Wei.

Read Article

LIVING WATER SMART IN BRITISH COLUMBIA: “What might a Water Sustainability Act 2.0 look like? Mike Wei and I identified five challenges and gaps in our submission to the Province of BC that we believe should be front-and-centre in the next round of government priorities,” stated Donna Forsyth, team leader for the drafting of the existing WSA and many of the supporting regulations when she was a legislative advisor to the Ministry of Environment (April 2022)


“During development of the Water Sustainability Act, the stars appeared to be aligning and everything was pointing to water becoming a real priority for the government. That was our frame of reference in 2014. We believed that the initial version of the WSA would not be government’s only kick at the can. Given that water is now being recognized as such a big priority, we could say to ourselves: ‘we will be back for WSA 2.0 to deal with the things that we had to leave behind’,” stated Donna Forsyth.

Read Article

LIVING WATER SMART IN BRITISH COLUMBIA: “The benefit of assigning worth to a stream corridor as an asset is that it leads to consideration of efforts needed to maintain that asset. To borrow a framework from the financial world, a Maintenance and Management (M&M) budget needs to be assigned to keep up the performance of ecological services beyond the natural asset’s initial ‘capital’ costs,” stated Ray Rung, retired Director of Engineering (March 2022)


“Formal responsibility for the services that stream corridors provide, as equivalents to engineered assets, mostly lies with local government. EAP, the Ecological Accounting Process, puts M&M of stream corridors and wetlands on an equal footing with say, pipes and pumps. The methodology and metrics recognize the importance of the stream in the landscape. EAP supports local governments that intend to include stream systems in asset management calculations. Through EAP, local governments have a guiding philosophy, methodology and metrics to make a financial case for stream systems,” stated Ray Fung.

Read Article

LIVING WATER SMART IN BRITISH COLUMBIA: “Different local governments will always be at different points and different levels of maturity along the asset management continuum. This is why we focus on outcomes and do not prescribe what to do in BC,” stated Glen Brown, Asset Management BC Chair, in 2015 when he unveiled the branding image that conceptualizes what the journey by a local government would look like to achieve Sustainable Service Delivery for Watershed Systems


“We framed the Asset Management Continuum as a series of three steps, recognizing that most local governments were at Ground Zero in 2015. Our operative phrase was ‘as understanding grows’. We saw this as the key consideration for local governments progressing along the continuum. Although it might be possible, we believed it unrealistic to expect anyone to jump directly to Step Three and integrate natural systems into their asset management strategies. We needed a way to illustrate this diagrammatically. This led us to the concept of a continuum,” stated Glen Brown.

Read Article

LIVING WATER SMART IN BRITISH COLUMBIA: “Having stable funding has been a huge part of the success of the Drinking Water and Watershed Protection program. It has enabled education of both the community and those who hold political office. This laid the foundation for strong Board support,” stated Director Ben Geselbracht, Regional District of Nanaimo (March 2022)


“We need everybody at the table. And regional districts are very well positioned to be the facilitator at the watershed scale. While it is good to see the Province refocusing its efforts on watersheds and watershed health, the Province must also bring adequate resourcing. The DWWP program coordinates collaborative regional programs advancing water awareness and stewardship; water information and science; and water-centric planning and policy support,” stated Ben Geselbracht.

Read Article

LIVING WATER SMART IN BRITISH COLUMBIA: “The Discussion Paper on a Watershed Security Strategy and Fund opens the door for the new Ministry of Land, Water and Resource Stewardship to take stock of what has been accomplished through implementation of Living Water Smart Actions and ask, what have we collectively learned in recent years and decades, and what comes next?” – Kim Stephens, Executive Director, Partnership for Water Sustainability (March 2022)


“Without effective provincial participation at local government tables, nobody has the authority to deliver a consistent, unified message about over-arching provincial goals and expectations. Consequently, the relevant analogy is a ‘wild west’ scenario. Without an effective provincial presence, there are consequences – for example, failure to close the gap between ;’state-of-the-practice’ and ‘state-of-the-art’ as it relates to water sustainability in an era when the water cycle is changing,” stated Kim Stephens.

Read Article

LIVING WATER SMART IN BRITISH COLUMBIA: “Work. See the barrier. Knock it down. As long as people continue doing that…..the 2003 Watershed Management Plan, the 2010 Blueprint, the 2020 Daylighting Feasibility Study, and so on will be kept alive that way,” stated Adriane Pollard, Manager of Environmental Services with the District of Saanich on Vancouver Island (March 2022)


“The intergenerational baton is being accepted. I believe the Daylighting Feasibility Study is the Bowker Blueprint for this next generation of municipal employees and community people. It is a ground-breaking document. It is meaningful. It causes us to focus and act. It gives us the knowledge to go forward. In terms of knocking down barriers, you really just have to look at what is the barrier and ask, what is holding us back and how do we address it? Be very focused and break the mold if you need to. Because that is what we did with the Blueprint, and that is what we have now done with the Daylighting Feasibility Study,” stated Adriane Pollard.

Read Article

LIVING WATER SMART IN BRITISH COLUMBIA: “As one who has seen and done many things, I have learned that we must all be leaders who selflessly have a vision, and we must then act to make the vision a reality, because air, water and continents are interconnected and if you can dream it — you can do it,” stated Lois Jackson, former Board Chair, Metro Vancouver Regional District (February 2022)


“At first I was not sure I understood what was meant when they talked about ‘green infrastructure’ and ‘celebrating successes’. And then the light went on. I remember saying ‘now I get it!’ – the point being that when you have examples of what can be done, and projects are being built, you can then wrap your mind around the green infrastructure vision and say to yourself: ‘what’s the big deal, this is really common sense…. if we can do this, then we can do more.’ And before you know it, the ball is rolling, and the landscape is changing for the better,” stated Lois Jackson.

Read Article

LIVING WATER SMART IN BRITISH COLUMBIA: “In the process of analyzing the 122 plans, we uncovered this grain of systems thinking within green infrastructure planning. It is like a crystal within a larger chaotic mix of planning ideas, an idea allowing us to integrate many different kinds of infrastructure systems,” stated Dr. Zbigniew Grabowski, Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies, lead author of a nationwide analysis of GI plans from 20 American cities (February 2022)


Dr. Grabowski’s “grain of systems thinking” epiphany is the point of departure that allows the Partnership for Water Sustainability to connect the dots to a green infrastructure milestone in 2005 when BC’s Green Infrastructure Partnership developed the “Design With Nature framework” for a whole-system approach that integrates across infrastructure systems. A conversation with Dr. Graboswki revealed that the state-of-the-art in the United States is now close to where British Columbia was in 2005. In the meantime, BC has continued to progress and evolve the systems approach.

Read Article

LIVING WATER SMART IN BRITISH COLUMBIA: “It is clear in my mind that traditional knowledge and western science are in alignment. They are just different ways of communicating. In fact, I believe there is an analogy between Indigenous oral history, and a statistical approach called Bayesian analysis. This is a way of processing anecdotal information,” stated Neil Goeller, BC Ministry of Environment & Climate Change Strategy (February 2022)


“In North America, from a scientific point of view, water records are quite short. We are lucky when we have 60 years of reliable records, possibly extending out to 100-plus years. Consider that our oldest hydrometric gauge in BC is only in the order of 110 to 120 years. The peak period for collection of streamflow and climate data was the era from the 1960s through 1980s. However, a majority of gauges in BC are discontinuous. When I reflect on this short-term context for hydrometric data collection in BC, there is no doubt in my mind that Indigenous knowledge would expand our horizon and help us make sense of the numbers in a larger context,” stated Neil Goeller.

Read Article