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Partnership for Water Sustainability in BC

The Partnership publishes weekly e-Newsletters. These feature champions who are leading changes in practice. Stories are replicated on our Blog for ease of access.

Latest Posts

DOCKSIDE GREEN, WORLD’S GREENEST NEIGHBOURHOOD: “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,” urges Kim Fowler, author of Dockside Green, the story of the world’s most sustainable development


“At Dockside Green, a ‘sandbox’ development concept was created instead of a ‘straitjacket’ conventional approach. This was achieved by setting the basic requirements for site redevelopment while still providing flexibility to promote innovation and competition in the land sale process. Traditional zoning was deemed to be a ‘straitjacket’ containing far too detailed and prescriptive land use and design. It would have destroyed competition and innovation,” stated Kim Fowler.

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ACCOUNTING FOR STREAM SYSTEMS IN ASSET MANAGEMENT PLANS: “Accounting for our region’s natural assets is part of responsible asset management that includes ecological systems as well as physical infrastructure. This report has given the RDN, as well as the City of Nanaimo, further insight as we develop our existing framework for the protection and enhancement of our important natural features in our communities, including stream corridors,” stated Chair Tyler Brown, Regional District of Nanaimo (April 2021)


The Millstone project provided the RDN, the City of Nanaimo and local stewardship group Island Waters Fly Fishers with the opportunity to get a real measure that accounts for the value and worth of the Millstone River stream corridor in asset management planning. The Millstone River EAP project has provided the RDN with a path forward so that it could account for and operationalize maintenance and management (M&M) of stream corridor systems across the region. This would be done under the umbrella of its Corporate Asset Management Plan. This would be a BC-first.

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A VISION FOR WATER RECONCILIATION: “The methodology for Blue Ecology is about the actual work of interweaving the strengths of two cultures to reconcile them. It is time for First Nations to take a seat at environmental policy tables, as respected knowledge keepers who understand and respect water. Indigenous teachings can improve Western science,” stated Michael Blackstock, Indigenous Independent Scholar and creator of Blue Ecology


Blue Ecology is an idea whose time has come. Long recognized by UNESCO and the International Association of Hydrological Sciences, Blue Ecology is defined as the interweaving of Western science and traditional First Nations teaching and local knowledge. “My work related to water and reconciliation has put the spotlight on a new angle,” stated Michael Blackstock. “Is reconciliation just dealing with the past and acknowledging the pain and moving on, or is it something more complex than that? The complexity is that if we are asking folks to change their attitude towards water, what does that mean?”

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A SPECIAL FEATURE ON THE EMERGING CRISIS AROUND GROUNDWATER LEGISLATION IMPLEMENTATION IN BRITISH COLUMBIA: An issue with far-reaching implications for thousands of farmers, businesses and industries that rely on groundwater (April 2021)


Effective March 2022, the transition period for groundwater licensing ends. The implication is that ‘historical uses’ without a licence would be considered ‘new uses’. As a result, those historical users who do apply for a licence would be subject to the new rules and conditions applicable to ‘new uses’. “Leadership at the highest level and a clear strategy to motivate historical groundwater users to apply, including signalling that government will deal with unauthorized water use, would be the game-changer that groundwater licensing desperately needs right now,” stated Mike Wei.

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SHORT-TERM GRATIFICATION VS INTER-GENERATIONAL LEGACY: “It really is important for us to be focused on the future. We have mapped out the next 10 years with Action Plan 2.0, but our vision really needs to remain focused on a much longer time horizon. 10 years is not enough. 100 years is what we need to be looking at.” – Randy Alexander, General Manager for Regional and Community Utilities, as quoted in the story of the Regional District of Nanaimo’s Drinking Water and Watershed Protection program, published by the Partnership for Water Sustainability in March 2021


“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. 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,” stated Kim Stephens.

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NEW REPORT – NANAIMO REGION’S JOURNEY TO A WATER-RESILIENT FUTURE: “We are proud of our accomplishments over the last 10 years, and our vision remains focused on the future. The Drinking Water & Watershed Protection program helps us make informed decisions today, and create the framework for sustainable decision making for the long term,” stated Tyler Brown, Board Chair, Regional District of Nanaimo


“The objective and mission of the DWWP program has always been about connecting land and water management. But the RDN couldn’t just leap straight there. We first had to build partnerships, trust, datasets and knowledge. We had to test ideas, learn, earn credibility, and deepen relationships across jurisdictions. The RDN demonstrates commitment to watershed initiatives and water sustainability by delivering the DWWP Action Plan with a long-term reliable funding source through parcel tax,” stated Julie Pisani, DWWP Program Coordinator.

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APPLICATION OF BC’S FRAMEWORK FOR SUSTAINABLE SERVICE DELIVERY: “There are many considerations in a local government’s budget every year. The questions asked should revolve around service and risk. Are you asking the right questions?” – Wally Wells, Executive Director, Asset Management BC


“Asset Management BC has a program initiative underway to operationalize asset management. We have selected a cohort of seven local governments and First Nations communities in different regions. These are demonstration applications and cover a range of situations along the Asset Management Continuum. The understanding gained from this process will inform evolution and application of the BC Framework. We have asked each participating government to identify a barrier to sustainable service delivery. We are working our way through a process with each one to overcome that specific barrier,” stated Wally Wells.

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FLOODS AFFECT SOME OF US. DROUGHTS AFFECT ALL OF US: Have you considered why climate change is a variable, not a driver? “The real issues are uncertainty and risk, more specifically how we deal with the first and manage the latter,” stated Robert Hicks, Metro Vancouver Senior Engineer, at the Achieving Water Balance Workshop which was the launch event for the Convening for Action in British Columbia initiative (April 2005)


The idea for the deceptively simple Water OUT = Water In equation originated with Robert Hicks. He believed it would be an effective visual means to explain complexity to a continuum of audiences, ranging from technical to elected. “How do you solve the OUT = IN equation when both sides are variable? After all, it is mathematically not possible to solve for two or more unknowns when one has a single equation. The inherent variability creates uncertainty which in turn creates risk,” stated Robert Hicks.

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ADAPTING TO THE NEW REALITY OF LONGER, DRIER SUMMERS: Unlike other regions and countries, the water supply challenge in British Columbia’s mountainous environment is that seasonal water storage potential is limited – such that there is little margin for operational error even though our droughts are measured in months rather than years!


“Consider our recent experience. For five straight years, from 2015 through 2019, British Columbia repeatedly dodged a bullet due to the new reality of longer, drier summers. 2020 was different. It was a wet year. This is why we must not be lulled as we emerge from winter and look ahead to summer. Once upon a time, a 5-month drought was considered possible but unlikely. And then it happened. A 6-month drought was considered improbable in the rain forest. And then it too happened – in 2015. In the big picture of water demand, our water supply lakes and reservoirs are mere puddles,” stated Kim Stephens.

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WHY THE FUSED GRID STREET PATTERN? – “In the early 2000s, entirely new priorities, along with old ones, were being staked at every corner of the planning universe. A tangled web of interacting variables emerged from these demands; a truly formidable, complex puzzle,” stated Fanis Grammenos, author of Remaking the City Grid, and an urban sustainability thinker


“The real urgent task was to convince a Municipality or a developer that this combination of known components worked well and that it produced desirable outcomes. Developers listened to the evidence with one ear while holding the other close to their clients – Sold! But they hesitated, being anxious that the City would not approve such plans; Cities, big and small, had just issued policy reports declaring: ‘cul-de-sacs are no longer allowed in this city because they are disconnected’,” stated Fanis Grammenos.

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