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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

AVOID THE PAIN, BE DELIBERATE, FUND THE PLAN: “Asset management for sustainable service delivery” is how communities can bridge the gap, or disconnect, between short-term and long-term thinking


Glen Brown coined the term Sustainable Service Delivery in 2010. “My inspiration came from Guy Felio, one of the original gurus of asset management nationally. Guy said, ‘It’s all about the service’, because infrastructure/ assets are worthless IF they do not provide a service. That is what resonated with me. Also, Guy Felio said, for any asset management approach to be successful, it must not focus on the infrastructure asset by itself. That way-of-thinking applies to nature and the environment as well,” stated Glen Brown.

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Natural Asset Management: cutting through the rhetoric – “Recognize the importance of the stream in the landscape,” says Tim Pringle, Chair of the Ecological Accounting Process initiative


“The land supports assets that provide services. And decisions are made at the parcel scale. Thus, we are tied to the past through historical subdivision of land. This means we must understand the biology of land use. The human analogy is DNA. Only EAP, the Ecological Accounting Process, deals with the parcel. Decisions by elected Councils and Boards are made at the parcel scale. Thus, getting it right about financial valuation of ecological services starts at the parcel scale and recognizing that every parcel is interconnected within a system. EAP bridges a gap. The methodology and metrics recognize the importance of the stream in the landscape,” stated Tim Pringle.

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ROLE OF THE COMMUNITY LEADER AS CATALYST: “Effective community engagement depends on involving people in decisions, sharing responsibility, and making them more accountable. This includes engaging generations, old and new. Our connection to the past should inform the future,” stated Ian Graeme, community leader and founder, Friends of Bowker Creek Society


“In 1995, I got involved in a Local Area Plan that was under development in Saanich; and started advocating for changes in watershed and stream protection policies. To draw attention to the need for action, I organized a series of community walks and developed a ‘watershed tour’ slideshow and took it around the community. When we incorporated the Friends of Bowker Creek Society, the mid 1990s was a time of a greenways movement in BC. This became one of our four goals: create a Bowker greenway to increase access to the creek. If more people became familiar with the creek, we believed, public interest would drive creek restoration,” stated Ian Graeme.

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ASSET MANAGEMENT IS AN AWKWARD TERM AND CONFUSES EVERYONE: “We have managed assets for decades and understand what that is and what we are doing. Suddenly we took two very simple words, reversed them, and went from managing assets to asset management. The result? We confused everyone,” stated Wally Wells, Executive Director of Asset Management BC


“An issue we have in communicating our message often seems to relate to the use and interpretation or misinterpretation of words or phrases. Too often we use technical terms within our own skill sets, not appreciating that others may not know what we are really saying. Asset Management, itself, is an intimidating term. The process of asset management or ‘managing assets’, is not new. The process, as defined today, just leads to better decisions across the entire organization for priority setting with limited budgets. However, we have succeeded in confusing everyone,” stated Wally Wells.

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CARING ABOUT TOMORROW: “Touching the past can connect us to the future,” says Jamil Zaki, professor of psychology at Stanford University


“Empathy is built on self-preservation. We watch out for our children because they carry our genes, for our tribe because it offers sex, safety and sustenance. Spreading our care across space and time runs counter to those ancient instincts. Empathy evolved as one of humans’ vital survival skills. It is only through our foray into the modern world that we have lost touch with our evolutionary empathy. Deeply empathic people tend to be environmentally responsible,” stated Jamil Zaki.

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STRENGTHENING THE FOUNDATION FOR WATER LAW IN BRITISH COLUMBIA: Once-in-a-decade opportunity for water sustainability in BC


“In a nutshell, ‘vesting’ is the legal concept that has historically been used to establish the government’s authority to write the laws that govern water use in BC. This means that any use of water that is unvested remains outside of those provincial laws. Vesting all water does not mean the use of every drop will or needs to be regulated. That concern is a red herring. The real issue centres on what government cannot do when the water use involves unvested water,” stated Mike Wei.

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What might a Water Sustainability Act 2.0 look like?


“During development of the Water Sustainability Act, the stars appeared to be aligning and everything was pointing to water becoming a real priority for the government. That was our frame of reference in 2014. We believed that the initial version of the WSA would not be government’s only kick at the can. Given that water is now being recognized as such a big priority, we could say to ourselves: ‘we will be back for WSA 2.0 to deal with the things that we had to leave behind’,” stated Donna Forsyth.

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ARE STREAMS WORTH THE SAME AS CONSTRUCTED ASSETS? – Local governments need real numbers to deliver green infrastructure outcomes!


“The message about ‘getting it right’ is a good summary of the green infrastructure goal of EAP, the Ecological Accounting Process. But it goes far beyond that thought. Not only do local governments have to make the financial case for stream restoration, they also actually now have to do it! But, the Partnership team wondered, what is the look ahead for readers of Construction Business magazine? The editorial challenge was to make a bridge from the regular construction world to the Partnership’s watershed world. An invitation to the reader of the article became a desired goal,” stated Ray Fung.

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NANAIMO REGION’S DRINKING WATER & WATERSHED PROTECTION PROGRAM: Strong, Informed, Enduring Political Leadership is a Foundation Piece for Living Water Smart


“The Regional Board provided the Province with feedback on exactly what municipalities and regional districts need so that we can take on more initiative and responsibility around watershed-scale decisions. This is a time for regional districts and stakeholders to speak up to ensure that what goes in the Watershed Security Strategy and Fund is adequate to meet the needs that we have been calling for. Fundamentally it comes down to resourcing. Funding will enable all the outcomes that the Province is hoping to achieve,” stated Ben Geselbracht.

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BC’s Watershed Security Strategy & Fund


“Without effective provincial participation at local government tables, nobody has the authority to deliver a consistent, unified message about over-arching provincial goals and expectations. Consequently, the relevant analogy is a ‘wild west’ scenario. Without an effective provincial presence, there are consequences – for example, failure to close the gap between ;’state-of-the-practice’ and ‘state-of-the-art’ as it relates to water sustainability in an era when the water cycle is changing,” stated Kim Stephens.

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