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Living Water Smart in BC

A PERSPECTIVE ON CLIMATE CHANGE: “If mitigation is about CARBON, then adaptation is about WATER”, stated John Slater, Parliamentary Secretary for Water Supply and Allocation, at Okanagan Workshop on Managing Stormwater in a Changing Climate (October 2010)


“Designing with nature captures the essence of climate change adaptation. Adaptation is about responding to the changes that will inevitably occur. Adaptation is at the community level and is therefore about collaboration. Rainwater management is at the heart of designing with nature,” stated John Slater. “When Kim Stephens asked me what does a lighter hydrologic footprint mean to me, I pointed across the street to the new Tim Horton’s. No water that falls on the building or on the parking lot leaves the site.”

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Partnership for Water Sustainability has a role in implementing ‘Living Water Smart, British Columbia’s Water Plan’ – “The strategy for leading and implementing change is called convening for action in British Columbia,” stated Kim Stephens, Partnership Executive Director (December 2010)


“In 2003, we moved into a vacuum as the Water Sustainability Committee. Through collaboration, we built a network in the local government setting. We have demonstrated that the collaborative approach works. Morphing the ‘convening for action’ network into a legal entity is a natural evolution. It means we can raise the bar for doing business differently. It opens new doors and broadens our reach. It enhances our ability to connect with champions in other jurisdictions and sectors who share a vision for British Columbia,” stated Kim Stephens.

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“Living Water Smart, British Columbia’s Water Plan” encourages green choices to protect stream health


In 2002, BC’s Stormwater Planning Guidebook introduced a set of five guiding principles. These are captured by the acronym ADAPT, where the “P” stands for Plan at four scales – regional, watershed, neighbourhood and site.”In integrating actions at four scales, the intended purpose of an Integrated Stormwater Management Plan is to provide a clear picture of how local governments can be proactive in applying land use planning tools to protect property and aquatic habitat, while at the same time accommodating land development and population growth,” stated Peter Law.

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WATER SUSTAINABILITY ACTION PLAN ADDS DEPTH TO LIVING WATER SMART: “We have been collaborating with local governments to align local actions with provincial goals expressed in Living Water Smart,” stated Kim Stephens


“Living Water Smart provides British Columbians with a vision of what the regions of our province can look like if local governments prepare communities for climate change, choose to be water smart, and strive to achieve settlement change in balance with ecology. The Action Plan partners are playing a key delivery role. In effect, the Action Plan partners are functioning as the on-the-ground Living Water Smart implementation arm with local government. The in-kind support from local governments is substantial and growing,” stated Kim Stephens.

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Web-based provincial tools enable water-centric planning and Living Water Smart – “Our vision is that the tools will collectively facilitate informed decision-making with respect to climate change adaptation,” stated Ted van der Gulik, Ministry of Agriculture


“Four of these tools — the Water Balance Model, the Water Conservation Calculator and the two Irrigation Scheduling Calculators — are built on a Universal Calculator technology platform. “We now have the tools that we need to influence practitioner and community behaviour. Also, the programs these tools support are linked. So, in 2010 our mission is to link everything together,” stated Ted van der Gulik.

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PURPLE PIPES IN BRITISH COLUMBIA: Living Water Smart includes the commitment to mandate purple pipes in new construction by 2010 for non-potable water use


“The Ministry of Housing and Social Development’s Building and Safety Standards Branch is responding to this commitment through proposed changes to the BC Building Code. The branch also recognized that Code changes alone would not automatically increase the use of non-potable water. The branch is working with several other ministries on a more coordinated regulatory framework that will support increased non-potable water use,” stated Christine Webb.

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BC’s WATER ACT MODERNIZATION: Province releases Technical Background Report as companion to Discussion Paper


A key aspect of water governance and participation in decision making is the role and function of planning. Plans can help to integrate the management of water into land management and complement community planning processes and decisions. “A key message in Living Water Smart is that green development makes sense.
New thinking about development leads to new benefits. These include more green spaces, more water and fish in the streams, improved community vitality, reduced demand for water, and reduced expenditures on infrastructure,”stated Lynn Kriwoken.

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CASE STUDY FOR LIVING WATER SMART: Cowichan Valley Water Balance Model Forum established practitioner expectations for rainwater management and green infrastructure – “The Forum was an outcome of the 2008 Cowichan Valley Learning Lunch Seminar Series,” stated Kate Miller


The Cowichan Valley is a Living Water Smart demonstration region for an inclusive and collaborative approach to building green infrastructure capacity through education and training. “The 2008 Series was the first step in building a regional team approach so that there would be a common understanding and consistent messaging regarding on-the-ground expectations for rainwater management and green infrastructure in the Cowichan Valley,” stated Kate Miller.

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