Category:

Understanding Water Resources

CLIMATE CHANGE AND HUMAN IMPACT: “There are three different types of flooding that can happen – rain, river and coastal,” says Dr. Tobias Börger, environmental economist, University of Stirling


“Engineered solutions are quite expensive to maintain which means unless there is constant investment they won’t be as effective as they should be in stopping floods,” stated Dr. Tobias Torborg. “However, there are also more natural, non-concrete options called blue and green infrastructure which focus on building vegetative river banks and wetlands – a system of plants and water – and more green areas to reduce flood risk and potential flood impact – because it means rainwater can enter the ground more easily.”

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ENGLISHMAN RIVER ON VANCOUVER ISLAND: “The watershed is the base unit for the purposes of a forest company’s landscape level plan,” stated Domenico Iannidinardo, Vice-President of Mosaic Forest Management, when he explained the importance of hydrological balance in a panel session on ‘Watershed Health and You’ at the Parksville 2019 Symposium (watch on YouTube)


“The watershed is the base unit of ecology, certainly on Vancouver Island,” stated Domenico Iannidinardo. “Over 80% of the Englishman River watershed is dedicated to forest management. Applying a landscape level approach makes a working forest work for multiple values. Hydrology and ecology values are managed through conservation agreements, land sales, and cooperation with researchers and communities. A guiding objective is to keep sediment out of streams.”

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LONGER, DRIER SUMMERS ARE METRO VANCOUVER’S DROUGHT MANAGEMENT REALITY: “Our unique problem is that we treat our water supply like a buffet,” stated CBC Radio’s Uytae Lee, The Early Edition’s About Here columnist (June 2019)


“Metro Vancouver studies predict that we’ll see a 56 percent decrease in snow on our mountains by 2050,” stated Uytae Lee. “That means we’ll have much less of that backup supply of water on our mountains. At the same time the region is expecting another 1 million people by 2050. We’re going to need more water. Metro Vancouver predicts that we could see a water supply gap by 2030. What that means is that (water shortage) emergencies, like the drought of 2015 won’t just be rare events, they’ll be the norm.”

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BRITISH COLUMBIA’S NEW CLIMATE REALITY: “If this kind of (extreme hot dry) weather persists, we are going to be in challenging situations as we get into the later part of the summer,” stated David Campbell, Hydrologist & Section Head, BC River Forecast Centre (June 2019)


Long stretches of warm weather this spring and too few rainy days are raising alarms about drought across British Columbia. Drought levels have been raised already for parts of the province and Dave Campbell says the current forecast points to drought conditions province-wide in the coming weeks. In an average year, Campbell says the drought map of B.C. would be the colour green, the code for normal. But most of the province is a bright yellow, the code for dry.

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IAN McHARG: No designer has done more to stoke the public imagination or reshape the professions around the environment. And nothing captures the scope and scale of his legacy better than his landmark book, Design With Nature, published in 1969


At the University of Pennsylvania, Ian McHarg taught a campus-wide course titled “Man and Environment” that brought luminaries like Loren Eisley, Margaret Mead, Lewis Mumford, and Julian Huxley into the department of landscape architecture. These courses gave McHarg the grist he would need to write Design With Nature. It arrived amid a national environmental awakening and immediately became part of the zeitgeist, giving planners, designers, and urbanists a manifesto for their frustrations with America’s lax land use and environmental regulations.

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Australia is the world’s driest continent, but when Europeans first arrived, it also had deep flowing rivers, expansive wetlands, clear creeks and drinkable billabongs


“There is an emerging discourse and practice around cultural flows, that is, water that can contribute to the meanings and practices of Traditional Lore. A greater emphasis on restoring and protecting cultural flows would be a leading innovation in water management,” Bruce Lindsay says. “The Indigenous connection to waterscapes is not just about the water itself. It is about the whole landscape and country and the obligations up and down the rivers.” In the state of Victoria, new water policy approaches have engaged Traditional Owner groups in developing management plans for catchments and major waterways

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FIRE WEATHER SEVERITY: ‘Abnormally dry’ conditions across Pacific Northwest could spell long wildfire season for British Columbia (May 2019)


“The signs of climate change are all around us. Earth mother’s lifeblood (i.e. water) is becoming sparse in the Pacific Northwest, and some Indigenous Elders say this is happening because humans are not showing respect to water,” said Michael Blackstock. “Water withdraws itself from the disrespectful. Water is transforming from ice, to sea and river water, and then to traversing atmospheric rivers. Water was sleeping as ice, but now it is moving rapidly and unpredictably around our planet. Some places are deluged, while others lay tongue-parched.”

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“Climate change is already leading to unprecedented flooding, but urban planners have many tools to help them keep things dry,” wrote Ziqian (Cecilia) Dong, PhD, in an article published on the Scientific American Blog Network


“Rising water levels have already wrought havoc across the country. From 2000 to 2015, coastal ‘sunny day flooding’, or flooding caused by high tides rather than storms, more than doubled on the Southeast’s Atlantic coast, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association. And it increased 75 percent on the Northeast’s coast,” said Ziqian Dong. “Climate change is also making storms more destructive and frequent by heating up ocean waters, increasing flooding. The United States experienced its most expensive hurricane season in history in 2017.”

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OUR CHANGING CLIMATE: British Columbia is in Year 5 of its ‘new reality’


“British Columbia’s climate is changing; and change is occurring at a rate much faster than anticipated. Looking back, 2015 marks the beginning of a ‘new normal’ which is defined by recurring extremes. Floods, drought, forest fires and windstorms – all are happening within the same year, and year after year,” states Kim Stephens, Executive Director, Partnership for Water Sustainability in BC. “Last week, a new scientific report from Environment and Climate Change Canada said Canada is warming up twice as fast as the rest of the world and it’s ‘effectively irreversible’.”

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AN INSURANCE INDUSTRY PERSPECTIVE ON DOING BUSINESS DIFFERENTLY: “By focusing on adapting to climate change we can work together constructively to keep Canadians out of harm’s way,” wrote Craig Stewart in an opinion piece published in the Financial Post


Canadians are starting to get used to news stories about springtime flooding. Although flooding has and will always happen, the frequency and intensity of floods are becoming more prolific. “The IBC-sponsored report, Combating Canada’s Rising Floods Costs: Natural infrastructure is an underutilized option, provides a framework for making decisions about the return on investment of green infrastructure deployed as a climate-adaptation measure,” wrote Craig Stewart.

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