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Water-Centric Planning

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FLASHBACK TO 2012: “The Primer on Integrated Rainwater and Groundwater Management provides local governments on Vancouver Island, and beyond, with guidance for implementation of Living Water Smart principles on the ground,” stated Ted van der Gulik


“The federal-provincial Regional Adaptation Collaboratives (RACs) Program
provided funding for development of this Primer. The purpose of the RACs
Program is to support coordinated action towards advancing regional climate
change adaptation decision-making,” stated Ted van der Gulik. “The Primer incorporates the findings of a precedent-setting groundwater research project undertaken by the Mid Vancouver Island Habitat Enhancement Society.”

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ARCTIC REPORT CARD: “The Arctic is undergoing its most unprecedented transition in human history. We’re seeing this continued increase of warmth pervading across the entire Arctic system,” said Dr. Emily Osborne, an official with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (December 2018)


“In 2018, warming air and ocean temperatures continued to drive broad long-term change across the polar region, pushing the Arctic into uncharted territory,” stated Emily Osborne. The warmer Arctic air causes the jet stream to become “sluggish and unusually wavy”. That has possible connections to extreme weather events elsewhere on the globe, including last winter’s severe storms in the United States and a bitter cold spell in Europe known as the “Beast From the East.” The rapid warming in the upper north, known as Arctic amplification, is tied to many factors.

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LIVING WATER SMART IN BRITISH COLUMBIA: While BC communities may not be able to restore lost biodiversity, they can certainly halt its decline and consciously direct efforts toward a richer future, that is: “make where we live better” (a call to action by those who will be attending the Parksville 2019 Symposium on April 2-3-4)


“The rhythms of water are changing in British Columbia. What happens on the land in the creekshed matters to streams – thus, the time has come to reconnect hydrology and ecology! Join delegates from the east coast of Vancouver Island and beyond, and attend a ‘watershed moment’ in Parksville,” stated John Finnie, Chair, Parksville 2019 Symposium Organizing Committee.

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LIVING WATER SMART IN BRITISH COLUMBIA: In 2008, Premier Campbell issued a call to action: “All land and water managers will know what makes a stream healthy, and therefore be able to help land and water users factor in new approaches to securing stream health and the full range of stream benefits.”


Water defines British Columbia, and the rhythms of water are changing. We are at a tipping point. Will we adapt? Will we restore balance to the water cycle? How? Will we get it right? Yes – provided the right people are in the right place at the right time to apply an understanding of science and technology to make better decisions. The challenge for engineers is to grasp the inherent complexity and unpredictability of working with natural systems. Engineers are always trying to shove nature into some form that would make it predictable and controllable.

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KUS-KUS-SUM RESTORATION ON THE COURTENAY RIVER ON VANCOUVER ISLAND: “Restoration will have tremendous cultural, environmental, social, and economic benefits, and the community has shown a high level of enthusiasm over the future vision for this site,” stated David Allen, CAO, City of Courtenay


A historic milestone in reconciliation and intergovernmental relations has taken place in the Comox Valley. A First Nation, a municipality and an environmental non-profit signed a MOU to purchase, restore and manage a key property in the heart of their community. “Working collaboratively with Project Watershed and K’ómoks First Nation has been an essential component of this project. As we move forward through the formal agreement process we look forward to building on this strong relationship with our partners,” stated David Allen.

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OPINION PIECE: “We are at a moment of truth. Local governments are implementers. This means they can be change leaders. We can make where we live better,” wrote Tim Pringle, Chair, Ecological Accounting Process (EAP) Initiative (Vancouver Sun, September 2018)


“They can integrate climate adaptation into the activities and actions of engineered and natural asset management – or flipping it around, integrate asset management into the activities and actions of climate adaptation. Getting it right starts with recognition that hydrology is the engine that powers ecological services. But getting it right depends on provincial and local government alignment to require ‘design with nature’ standards of practice for servicing of land,” wrote Tim Pringle.

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DODGING DAY ZERO IN CAPETOWN: “The City has already initiated steps towards the goal of becoming a water-sensitive city by 2040. In the City’s draft water strategy, the use of rain and stormwater is included,” stated Deputy Mayor Ian Neilson


“The next step comprises the management of all water within the urban water cycle. A key component of this is rain and stormwater harvesting, which offers great growth opportunities,” Ian Neilson said. “Stormwater and rain harvesting on a large scale is an incredibly intricate and complicated process with many legal, practical, budgetary, infrastructure and other considerations. Much work is underway.” The City has a draft strategy for harvesting rain and stormwater, part of a move towards holistic water management.

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TOO SMALL TO FAIL – HOW COMMUNITIES CAN PREPARE FOR BIGGER STORMS: “Smaller scale, agile efforts to limit flood risk can collectively contribute to ensuring the resiliency of communities,” stated Dr. Blair Feltmate, head of the Intact Centre on Climate Adaptation, upon release of new report showcasing green infrastructure projects


“In recent years we have seen a dramatic rise in insurable losses related to extreme weather events in Canada. The increase in costs is due in part to flooding, and this new report identifies some practical mitigation measures municipalities and NGOs can take to limit the impacts of bigger storms that we expect to see in coming years,” stated Dr. Blair Feltmate. “The lesson of this report rests with its focus on the utility of small-scale, local flood mitigation projects.”

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“Factors like land-use and land-cover changes, and vegetation changes have altered the underlying surface conditions and hydrological feedbacks that have, in turn, increased storm runoff,” report Columbia University researchers


“Our work helps explain the underlying physical mechanisms related to the intensification of precipitation and runoff extremes,” Pierre Gentine said. “This will help improve flood forecasting and early-warning alerts. Our findings can help provide scientific guidance for infrastructure and ecosystem resilience planning and could help formulate strategies for tackling climate change.” Gentine’s team plans next to try to partition the impacts of thermodynamic and atmosphere dynamics on precipitation to gain a deeper understanding about precipitation intensification.

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BLUE CITY: “We set out to write a report that will help practitioners and decision makers build a business case for more sustainable, integrated water management,” stated Louise Brennan, report co-author (January 2014)


“This fourth report from the Blue Economy Initiative and its partners looks to the future. The previous three reports have dealt with critical analysis, insights and recommendations on the value of water as a financial asset and a catalyst for innovation in Canada. In this piece, 17 water-related professionals in Canada were asked what their vision of a Water Sustainable City of the near future would look like. This report showcases the inspiring and practical foresight of the interviewees,” stated Louise Brennan.

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