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Living Water Smart in BC

LIVING WATER SMART IN BRITISH COLUMBIA: “Launched in March 2021, the Columbia Basin Water Hub will make critical water data readily available to decision makers for watershed management in an era of climate change impacting hydrological flows,” stated Kat Hartwig, Founder & Executive Director of Living Lakes Canada


Kat Hartwig is the passion and vision behind Living Lakes. At the same as she is building Living Lakes, Kat is also mentoring a growing team of young environmental professionals who are very passionate about water stewardship. Everyone wants to continue Kat’s vision. “We set out to build an open source data hub for the Upper Columbia Basin. Now we’ve got the platform built, we’re training groups to upload their data, and we’re receiving feedback from groups and provincial and local governments to ensure we’re supporting their needs. It’s an iterative process,” stated Kat Hartwig.

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LIVING WATER SMART IN BRITISH COLUMBIA: “At the end of the day, good decision-making comes down to a good process. But it also relies on wisdom in terms of balanced advice,” stated Peter Steblin, Chief Administrative Officer with the City of Coquitlam


“Balance is key to good government. One needs good administrative expertise to advise and serve the political arm. At the same time, the political arm has to trust the administrative arm. The two arms must work together. Council buy-in follows when Council fundamentally respects the work that Staff does. In Coquitlam, respect has grown over time. It would not be possible without a really wise, good servant’s heart within the Council table. An airplane analogy is one way to describe the relationship. Think of one wing as political and the other as administration. If either wing is not functioning properly, the plane will crash,” stated Peter Steblin.

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LIVING WATER SMART IN BRITISH COLUMBIA: “By mobilizing vast external resources, networked nonprofits can focus on their own expertise. At the same time, these external resources enhance the value and influence of each organization’s expertise,” stated Dr.Jane Wei-Skillern, co-author of The Networked Nonprofit, which provides context for the Partnership for Water Sustainability vision for collaborative leadership


“The network emerges around a common goal, rather than a particular program or organizational model. The community mobilizes the resources from throughout the network, and based on existing relationships in the community. The solution is emergent and comes from the community members themselves, rather than being pushed from the top down. And finally, once a network is up and running and proves itself to be effective, it becomes the primary vehicle for change, rather than the individual organizations themselves,” stated Dr. Jane Wei-Skillern.

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LIVING WATER SMART IN BRITISH COLUMBIA: “We do not have the luxury of time to wait for a younger generation to go through their learning curve to figure out what goes into operationalizing the foundation pieces for achieving a water-resilient future,” stated Kim Stephens, Executive Director, Partnership for Water Sustainability (May 2021)


“Technical knowledge alone is not enough! Making things happen in the real world requires an appreciation for and understanding of human behaviour, combined with a knowledge of how decisions are made. It takes a career to figure this out! Elders have a responsibility to pass on understanding and wisdom. However, responsibility is a two-way street because minds must be open to accepting the inter-generational baton and embracing the wisdom that goes with it. With this thought in mind, I created the ‘time continuum graphic’ to conceptualize the thinking that guides the Partnership’s mission,” stated Kim Stephens.

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LIVING WATER SMART IN BRITISH COLUMBIA: “Do we have the intelligence and will to impel change? Can convention be busted open again to develop sustainably? This book encourages sustainable change agents to make fundamental, systemic change. Please go implement. Now,” stated Kim Fowler, local government planner and author of Dockside Green, the story of the world’s most sustainable development


“We have proven a model, that can be replicated in whole or in part. There are parts people can take – for example, I describe the Triple Bottom Line matrix used in the Request for Proposals for the Dockside Green land sale. Please, go use it! Adapt it to your project. My message to those who are interested in sustainable development is to take the pieces from Dockside Green that would work for you. The vision for the Dockside Green redevelopment called for a mixed use, sustainable development based on Triple Bottom Line (TBL) principles. This then directed the Development Concept,” stated Kim Fowler.

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LIVING WATER SMART IN BRITISH COLUMBIA: “Everyone in a local government organization needs to recognize that asset management is a process, not a plan,” stated Wally Wells, Asset Management BC Executive Director, when explaining application of BC’s Framework for Sustainable Service Delivery (May 2021)


“The important and telling part of the title is Asset Management is a process to provide a sound basis for decisions relating to the function – which is service delivery! Assets exist and are created, upgraded, replaced, maintained, and operated to provide a service. There is no other reason for their existence than provision of the intended service. So, when considering a project related to an asset, we should be considering the service the asset is to provide. An Australian associate once said: ‘an asset without a user has no value’,” stated Wally Wells.

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LIVING WATER SMART IN BRITISH COLUMBIA: “The lack of communication between different government agencies and between governments and stewardship groups is concerning,” stated Nikki Kroetsch, DFO’s Community Engagement Coordinator with the Pacific Science Enterprise Centre in West Vancouver, when she explained why the current state of environmental monitoring in BC communities is a call to action (May 2021)


“The Pacific Science Enterprise Centre, known as PSEC, as a whole is addressing the ‘lack of collaboration’ issue quite simply by embracing and facilitating collaboration, but in my role as Community Engagement Coordinator I’ve also been specifically attempting to address the lack of communication regarding environmental monitoring; albeit slowly and methodically, as I’m only one person! Specifically I’m doing this through the PSEC Community Stream Monitoring project, which we call CoSMo for short,” stated Nikki Kroetsch.

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LIVING WATER SMART IN BRITISH COLUMBIA: “Given the variability of the factors behind ‘Water Out = Water In’, this relationship always will represent a snap-shot in time as its’ inputs shift, evolve and change over time,” stated Robert Hicks, Senior Engineer with the Metro Vancouver Regional District, when reflecting on how to deal with uncertainty and manage risk (March 2021)


“A constant challenge for planning is not to prevent past events, but instead is to use past experiences to inform and create flexible strategies for the present and the future. This need for flexibility is not restricted to the immediate scope of the problem at hand; but must also consider the broader juggling of evolving local government priorities and service demands. This leads to the challenge of assessing problems with sufficient complexity to arrive at flexible and resilient solutions, while at the same time not being overwhelmed and paralyzed by over-analysis,” stated Robert Hicks.

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LIVING WATER SMART IN BRITISH COLUMBIA: “The responsibility for water needs to reside in one ministry with the mandate to require other ministries to communicate, cooperate, coordinate, and collaborate. In our system of government, accountability flows through the minister,” stated Mike Wei, former Deputy Comptroller of Water Rights, when commenting on implementation challenges around groundwater licensing (April 2021)


“Licensing the 20,000 groundwater users who predate the 2016 legislation is a massive task but the other side of the coin is ensuring proper compliance by new groundwater users who have drilled wells since 2016. By both motivating historical groundwater users to apply for their licences and signalling that government will deal with unauthorized water users, Government could go a long way to restoring public confidence and realizing the transformative goals of the Water Sustainability Act,” stated Mike Wei.

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SHORT-TERM GRATIFICATION VS INTER-GENERATIONAL LEGACY: “We know what we need to do to adapt to a changing water cycle. Whether and how we deal with uncertainty, manage risk, and adapt to droughts and floods will depend on how effective we are in encouraging a spirit of inter-generational collaboration among decision-makers at all levels within government and with community,” wrote Kim Stephens (Executive Director, Partnership for Water Sustainability) in an Op-Ed published in April 2021


“British Columbia’s communities have arrived at an ‘inter-generational moment’ in history. For quite some time we have known that climate mitigation is about carbon and climate adaptation is about water. Now what will we do? Sure, the climate is changing at an accelerating rate and we are experiencing an increased frequency of extreme events – drought, fire, wind, flood. However, the situation is by no means hopeless,” stated Kim Stephens. “Through experience, we do know that when we get the water part right, other parts of the puzzle will fall into place.”

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