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Understanding Water Resources

YOUTUBE VIDEO: “To say that we are not adequately dealing with the climate threat is an understatement,” stated Bob Sandford during the public lecture at the Nanaimo Water Stewardship Symposium (April 2018)


“While it seems sometimes that the only indicators of interest to our society are economic, the really important trend in my mind is the one being largely ignored: that is the Keeling Curve – the rise in the concentration of carbon dioxide in the Earth’ atmosphere,” stated Bob Sandford. “Unless you don’t believe in gravity and in the world you have created for yourself apples don’t fall from trees, the immutable laws of atmospheric physics point clearly in the direction of climate disruption if not disaster.”

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NEW REPORT ON THE IMPACT OF A CHANGING CLIMATE: “Addressing the New Normal: 21st Century Disaster Management in B.C.” (May 2018)


An independent review of British Columbia’s response to last year’s wildfires and flooding makes 108 recommendations and calls for an overhaul of disaster response practices. The review says there should be a partnership with First Nations, local, provincial and federal governments to better prepare for emergencies. “2017 was by no means an anomaly or a one-off,” George Abbott said. “It is something that we have to prepare for every year. There is a world of evidence that climate change is impacting us in profound ways.”

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DESIGN WITH NATURE: “In order to increase the resilience of a natural system, it is important to find solutions beyond the level of the city,” stated Kongjian Yu, the internationally renowned Chinese landscape architect who is best known for his “sponge cities”


Kongjian Yu is famous for being the man who reintroduced ancient Chinese water systems to modern design. President Xi Jinping and his government have adopted sponge cities as an urban planning and eco-city template. Yu’s designs aim to build resilience in cities faced with rising sea levels, droughts, floods and so-called “once in a lifetime” storms. “It’s important to make friends with water. We can make a water protection system a living system,” states Kongjian Yu. “The mottos of the sponge city are: Retain, adapt, slow down and reuse.”

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OUR CLIMATE IS CHANGING: “We are already noticing that big fires are influencing flooding, they go together,” said University of British Columbia forestry professor Lori Daniels


Not only are the trees destroyed, but depending on the intensity of a fire, a thick absorbent layer of organic matter may also have burned off. And if that isn’t bad enough, burned forest duff is full of fats and waxes that create a slick surface that allows water to bead, pool and run off. “That waxy film makes the soils hydrophobic, so they don’t absorb the water any more, they shed it,” explained Lori Daniels. “After a fire where there is white ash you can see rivulets of water forming little channels instead of soaking in.”

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YOUTUBE VIDEO: “Our water resources are impacted by climate and land-use change. What we do on the land matters for the water! And involves many parties,” stated Julie Pisani, at the Nanaimo Water Stewardship Symposium (April 2018)


“The Regional District of Nanaimo demonstrates commitment to watershed initiatives and water sustainability by delivering the Drinking Water & Watershed Protection Service with a long-term reliable funding source,” stated Julie Pisani. “This allows us to effectively leverage support from partners, because we are in it for the long came and we are coming to the table with some resources to get started. Not fund the whole thing, but get it off the ground and generate collaboration.”

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“Communities can advance mitigation and adaptation agendas simultaneously through ‘Green Resilience’ strategies,” stated Deborah Harford, Executive Director, the Adaptation to Climate Change Team (ACT) at Simon Fraser University


“Climate change impacts such as flooding, drought, and other forms of extreme weather are projected to increase in frequency and severity in the future,” stated Deborah Harford. “Plans are now under consideration to create a cross-country dialogue regarding climate resilience and GHG mitigation and to form working groups to advance recommendations on research, capacity-building, and policies to support implementation of green resilience solutions.”

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Los Angeles County’s Bold Plan for Safe, Clean Water: Collaborate at regional level and plan at watershed level to bring multi-benefit rainwater capture projects to communities


The county is currently developing a plan which would fund construction of cisterns, rain gardens, and other infrastructure to collect and store as much as 100 billion additional gallons of rainwater per year. That’s enough water to meet 20 percent of L.A.’s current demand. “When you look at what we are importing into L.A. County, it’s about 60 percent of our local supply,” Mark Pestrella said. “That’s a problem from an economic standpoint, and from a pollution standpoint.”

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Water Sustainability Action Plans in British Columbia: “The scale and scope of each plan – and the process used to develop it – would be unique, and would reflect the needs and interests of the watersheds affected,” stated Jennifer Vigano, Ministry of Environment, in Beyond the Guidebook 2015


“Planning will be an effective tool where the need is great, and where other area-based management tools are not able to address the links between land use and watershed impacts,” stated Jennifer Vigano. The Water Sustainability Act allows for the development of Water Sustainability Plans. These collaboratively developed plans can integrate water and land use planning and can be combined with other local, regional or provincial planning processes to address water-related issues.

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Drinking Water & Watershed Protection in the Regional District of Nanaimo: “The program is well positioned, with a model of innovative collaboration, to tackle the issues and chart a new course to a sustainable water future,” stated Julie Pisani, DWWP Program Coordinator


“Like other locations in the province, the region is experiencing change: population growth as more residents are attracted to the area; climate change that manifests as longer, drier summers and more frequent short-duration intense rainstorms; and an evolving regulatory landscape that opens up possibilities for local water management,” explained Julie Pisani. “The solid foundation developed in the first 10 years provides a great opportunity to move forward. Will other regions take notice and follow in RDN’s footsteps?”

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WEBINAR (March 8): An opportunity to learn about innovation in public engagement in the Ottawa River watershed


“PlaceSpeak is designed for how Canadians behave in a digital age. Individuals are in the driver’s seat, deciding how they want to participate, on what topics, and how often they wish to be notified about opportunities to provide input,”stated Marina Steffensen. “This platform will allow us to break down the feedback received, resulting in a more nuanced and meaningful understanding of how participants use and interact with the Ottawa River watershed across diverse communities.”

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