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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.

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LIVING WATER SMART IN BRITISH COLUMBIA: “Many readers tell us that they are inspired by the stories that we share,” stated Kim Stephens, Waterbucket eNews Editor and Executive Director, Partnership for Water Sustainability in British Columbia (June 2021)


“Each week, from September through June, we celebrate the leadership of individuals and organizations who are guided by the vision for Living Water Smart, British Columbia’s Water Plan. Feature stories published weekly on Waterbucket eNews constitute a legacy resource. To make them readily accessible and sharable, many of these stories are now downloadable as report-style documents. In the Living Water Smart Series, featured authors explore specific themes, with an objective of helping others make a difference in the communities in which they live,” stated Kim Stephens.

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INTEGRATING NATURAL ASSETS INTO INFRASTRUCTURE ON BC’S SUNSHINE COAST: “During construction, we experienced a few 50mm rain events that we had to manage with fire pumps that pumped into the forest, dispersing through sprinklers. Amazingly though, we could see there was no pooling or surface movement. It was our first time seeing in real time what the forest could manage,” stated Michael Wall, Manager of Asset Management & Strategic Initiatives, qathet Regional District


“We received a proposal to manage stormwater using pipes, ditches, and a large sedimentation pond. It was going to cost roughly $850,000 and they were going to clear around a hectare of forest. Jason Gow, senior planner from the City of Powell River, and I went on site to review the proposed engineering design. We wondered why are we clearing a forest to put in infrastructure to manage run-off, when we know the forest can provide that service to some extent? We tried to look for any similar case studies for a “volume of water per area of forest” that can be safely managed, but we could not find anything,” stated Michael Wall.

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OUTDOOR WATER USE IN BALANCE WITH A CHANGING WATER CYCLE: “Local governments in three regions – Okanagan, Fraser Valley and Vancouver Island – are collaborating with the Partnership for Water Sustainability to operationalize the BC Landscape Water Calculator. This new online tool helps homeowners design water efficient yards and gardens,” stated Ted van Gulik


“The power of the BC Landscape Water Calculator is that it is linked to a provincial 500 metre gridded climate dataset that was built for the Agricultural Water Demand Model. This is what establishes the allowable water budget for each and every property in British Columbia. The allowable water budget is a real number. It is based on average climate data for the period 2000 through 2010 for the active growing season. This establishes a location-specific performance target for landscape design. Users then test various combinations of plant types and irrigation systems to determine their total landscape water need,” stated Ted van der Gulik.

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ENGAGE AND ALIGN ORGANIZATIONS WITHIN A NETWORK: “Embracing collaborative leadership, growing a network based on shared aspirations, and delivering results across organizational boundaries differs in every way from building an organization in any conventional sense,” stated Mike Tanner, a Founding Director of the Partnership for Water Sustainability


“The Partnership is a legal entity, yet operationally it functions as a network rather than as an organization in any conventional sense. The work of The Partnership is guided by a network way-of-thinking that reflects our genesis as a water-centric technical committee in the 1990s. We recognize that to be successful in facilitating changes in practice over the long-term, the groundwork has to be done by our partners. This means that the work of The Partnership must be aligned with and support their organizational objectives,” stated Mike Tanner.

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CREATING SAFE CITIES FOR SALMON: “Using the Salmon-Safe Urban eco-certification as an evaluative framework for policy comparison, the study showcases the many efforts being made across the Lower Fraser region to develop cities more sustainably with wild salmon populations in mind,” reported Andrea McDonald, author of the joint research study by the Pacific Water Research Centre and the Salmon-Safe BC team (May 2021)


“Protection of salmon and their habitat from the adverse impacts of urban development is a challenging task that requires an all-of-government response. Findings from this research highlight the variable involvement and guidance provided from the higher levels of government in Canada. As one expert noted, the province must provide more clarity on direct regulatory obligations which have compliance initiatives in place to enforce them. Inadequate statutory foundations and enforcement of current regulations have only hindered the implementation of nature-based solutions to protect salmon in cities,” stated Andrea McDonald.

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DOING SCIENCE DIFFERENTLY IN LOCAL CREEKSHEDS: “Stewardship groups are such an underutilized resource right now. My Masters research looked at how governments can better collaborate with stream stewardship groups on environmental monitoring initiatives,” stated DFO’s Nikki Kroetsch, Community Engagement Coordinator with the Pacific Science Enterprise Centre in West Vancouver


“According to the federal, provincial, and local government employees and the stewardship group volunteers I interviewed for my Masters research, data collection is currently siloed and unorganized. Many people are collecting essentially the same data, but because there’s very little communication and data sharing going on between them, it means a lot of duplicated efforts, which is a huge waste of resources given that monitoring is often time consuming and expensive to conduct,” stated Nikki Kroetsch.

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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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