Rainwater Management in the 21st Century: "What Drives a Successful Model?" is explained by Dr. Charles Rowney

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What Are the Major Issues? 

At the 2011 Water Balance Model Partners Forum hosted by Metro Vancouver, Dr. Charles Rowney reviewed the implications of computing technology decisions. In the 1980s, he developed the QUALHYMO calculation engine for the Ontario Ministry of Environment. Respected internationally, Dr. Rowney is the Scientific Authority for the Water Balance Model(WBM).

The graphic shown above “….is a distillation and synthesis of conversations with several hundred people from all around the world who are experienced modellers. Within this group are individuals who I consider to be the premier people in their field. When we discussed the question – what are the major issues? – seven themes emerged,” stated Dr. Rowney. In order of priority, they are:

1.   Meeting Data Needs
2.   Inadequate Problem Formulation
3.   Time / Money
4.   State of Practice
5.   Understanding
6.   Questionable Need
7.   Forecast Condition

“What is interesting about this synthesis of an engine as compared with the framework that is the WBM is that these seven impediments are tackled head-on.” 


Meeting Data Needs

“The number one point of pain is meeting data needs. We have all heard the stories about a model such as HSPF with 30 or 40 parameters to adjust, and the best curve-fitting engine in the world, but we can’t find the data. We can’t make it work.”

“If we take what we as a community know is required, the data needs to get to the end-point within the WBM are just minimal. They are no less than is needed; but they are no more than is needed. When you think about what is happening with this Water Balance tool in terms of consistency, and in terms of what you might call a consensus standard and agreed approach, it is formulating the problem in a way that is technically defendable…and that is workable.”

“What we doing with the WBM is exciting. It is a direct attack on what it takes to get the answers. We are evolving the state of practice.  BC is the only place I know of where there is a link between the applied practice and climate change, and what are we going to do to make this a routine part of our analysis,” summarized Dr. Rowney.



The foregoing is extracted from a guidance document released by the Partnership for Water Sustainability in November 2011. To download a copy, click on Primer on Urban Watershed Modelling to Inform Local Government Decision Processes.






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