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Partnership for Water Sustainability in BC

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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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POLICIES, DECISIONS, AND RAINFALL INDUCED FLOODING IN CITIES: “Communication is king. As urban decision making brings in more voices, and climate change becomes less of an abstract future but a present-day reality, it is imperative for policy to understand what the different perspectives are and how to weigh their importance,” stated Charles Axelsson, PhD, Ca’ Foscari University of Venice in the Science and Management of Climate Change (March 2022)


“If flooding will occur in a neighborhood, what will happen if what homeowners want differs from what those in city hall believe is best? What if local environmental campaigners have a different vision to protect a nearby park or engineers see it as an opportunity to test a new adaptation methodology? Is there a way to unify these perspectives and streamline solutions? If not, who decides whose values are more important? Climate change will put increasing pressure on urban adaptation decision-making making these questions a part of daily life,” stated Charles Axelsson.

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ROLE OF THE MUNICIPAL CHAMPION AS THE INTERPRETER: “With the turnover in municipal staff, I have become the municipal champion for Bowker Creek. I remind colleagues of the municipal policies and that the Blueprint is a Council-endorsed document,” stated Adriane Pollard, Manager of Environmental Services with the District of Saanich


“Every time I review a development for environmental impacts, we identify that it is in the Bowker watershed, and we state what the Blueprint says about the subject reach. Also, whenever the municipality undertakes capital and maintenance projects, we make sure to refer to the Blueprint and state what it says. The good thing about this role is that the more that I do it, the more other people in the organization get the picture and say ’this is the document that we are going to use for this and that purpose’. And when it comes to interpreting the document, other staff come to me,” stated Adriane Pollard.

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A call to action to design with nature and create liveable communities that also protect stream health: “If You Can Dream It – You Can Do It”


“Today, what we as leaders do, will resound for the people of the future, their cities and their regions. In fact, for the world at large. One of the reasons that I ran for office in 1972, and why I served for 20 years as Mayor of Delta, and 7 years at Chair of Metro Vancouver was ‘to make a difference’. One of the first things I did when I became Mayor in 1999 was to introduce our community to caring about of our air, land and water. Many were opposed to this position. But we persevered and, as a result, I believe we have set a good example for stewardship,” stated Lois Jackson.

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‘DESIGN WITH NATURE” FRAMEWORK FOR GREEN INFRASTRUCTURE: Nationwide document survey by Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies reveals that the green infrastructure state-of-the-art in the United States is now close to where British Columbia was in 2005


How green infrastructure is defined guides the types of projects that local governments implement, with enduring impacts to people and the urban environment. “Ecology is not really being embedded in any planning practice, This realization turned my attention towards urban planning and this question, how do you embed ecosystem science and principles within landscape planning to conserve landscapes and landscape functioning quality?” stated Dr. Zbigniew Grabowski. This led him to look at green infrastructure through the systems lens.

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ORAL HISTORY EXTENDS THE PERIOD OF RECORD AND OUR UNDERSTANDING: “Blue Ecology is an ecological philosophy, which emerged from interweaving First Nations and Western thought. It is meant to be a companion because it augments existing Western science hydrology rather than displacing this knowledge.” – Michael Blackstock


“In my mind, traditional knowledge and western science are just different ways of recording, or documenting, and communicating the same information. I believe there is an analogy between Indigenous oral history, and a statistical approach called Bayesian analysis,” stated Neil Goeller. In BC, hydrometric records are fairly limited in time and geographic coverage. From a hydrology perspective, then, interweaving science and a rich oral history would turn a comparatively short period of data collection into thousands of years of knowledge.

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A NETWORK ALLOWS PEOPLE TO MOVE OUT OF WORKPLACE SILOS: “People who have ‘done it’ will help you properly define the problem and provide you with experience-based guidance on how to deal with the issue,” stated Joe McGowan, retired Director of Public Works, and network builder in the local government setting


“Our workforce is dealing with two massive changes. One is Generational Amnesia and the second is that good people who desire to effect change are often working in silos that limit their contact with colleagues who can help define a problem and provide guidance on how to solve the problem. Generational amnesia is a phrase used to describe a situation in which organizations lose their memory of how to do things. The world is rapidly losing expertise through retirement which denies new employees the benefit of their predecessor’s knowledge and experience,” stated Joe McGowan.

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