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Living Water Smart in BC

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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LIVING WATER SMART IN BRITISH COLUMBIA: “If we are going to tackle the huge challenge that is the climate emergency, then we are absolutely going to need to work with nature and put aside the idea that we can dominate it,” stated Laura Dupont, a Councillor with the City of Port Coquitlam, and President of the Lower Mainland Local Government Association


“Covering the region from Pemberton to Hope, the Lower Mainland Local Government Association is a diverse membership with diverse needs. It advocates for members on various Provincial and Federal issues and works to inform and advance local government interests. The group also holds a seat on the UBCM executive and some of the committees within. Priorities of the current board are to advance resolutions related to climate resiliency, food security and inequality. The group is open minded and exceedingly progressive on these important issue,” stated Laura Dupont.

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LIVING WATER SMART IN BRITISH COLUMBIA: “An unintended outcome of customizing the BC Landscape Water Calculator for Abbotsford is in the way it gives homeowners direction for plant selection. This is powerful,” stated Amy Peters, coordinator of the City of Abbotsford water conservation program


“In 2011, the City looked at options to reduce peak water demands due to the high cost of a new water source. This included conservation, optimizing existing sources and system efficiencies. Several different conservation programs were explored, one of the programs implemented was a voluntary program for irrigation and landscape water efficiency. The solution to our need was the BC Landscape Water Calculator. Homeowners can now provide us with a report that shows how their choice of water efficient plants and landscape design meets their water budget,” stated Amy Peters.

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LIVING WATER SMART IN BRITISH COLUMBIA: “The Regional District of Nanaimo’s ultimate vision is to support land use decision-making with local water information. In the next decade, the DWWP program will further hydrology-focused efforts and add the new lens of ecosystem financial valuation of natural watershed assets,” stated Julie Pisani, Program Coordinator, Drinking Water & Watershed Protection Program


“The EAP methodology reflects the understanding that landowners adjacent to the stream corridor and setback zone (30 metres on both sides of the stream) and the broader community share responsibility for and benefit from the condition of the stream as well as the financial and ecological value of the land it occupies. The study’s intent was to pilot EAP (the Ecological Accounting Process) in the context of the Millstone River, an important ecological feature in the Nanaimo region, to test the methodology and take away learnings for further refinement in future applications,” stated Julie Pisani.

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LIVING WATER SMART IN BRITISH COLUMBIA: “The study looked at the existing policies, rules and practices used to protect salmon in the Lower Fraser Watershed. Then it compared Indigenous, federal, provincial and local government policies with standards used in the Fraser Basin Council’s Salmon-Safe Urban B.C. program,” stated Andrea McDonald, author of Creating Safe Cities for Salmon (May 2021)


Creating Safe Cities for Salmon seems straightforward as a vision and a goal. But creating this outcome depends on bringing together a myriad of small pieces to create the big picture. This takes a career and requires enduring commitment. “I am inspired. I feel like I know the direction that I will take and that is local government. And I am passionate about having a career in local government because that is where I see the needed changes happening. It is where I see bringing my environmental perspective to both policy making and implementation,” stated Andrea McDonald.

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