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  1. “A Water Conservation Strategy for British Columbia” was launched at the 1998 Annual Convention of the Union of BC Municipalities

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    Strategy Recognized that Water is a Valuable Resource

    British Columbia is endowed with an abundance of rivers, streams and lakes. Until recently, our supply of water seemed endless. However, as the province has developed aPrad Khare1_120pnd grown in population, the increasing demand for water has put pressure on our water resources. In recognition of those pressures, in 1997 the Ministry of Environment, brought together a Working Group of representatives from all three levels of government, as well as industry, professional associations and interest groups to develop a Water Conservation Strategy for British Columbia. The group was chaired by Prad Khare.

    The goal of the Water Conservation Strategy for British Columbia is to develop and promote supply and demand-side management measures for application by municipalities, water purveyors, drawers and users throughout the province, recognizing regional differences. Such a strategy will contribute to a sustained and healthy resource and provide a common framework for water management activities throughout the province by advancing water as a valuable resource which must be utilized efficiently, wisely and cost-effectively to sustain a high quality of social, environmental and economic well-being, for now and in the future.

    The Water Conservation Strategy for British Columbia was released at the annual convention of the Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM) in September, 1998.

    Working Group Members
    Executive Summary
    1.0 A Water Conservation Strategy for British Columbia
    1.1 Introduction
    1.2 Goals and Objectives
    1.3 Challenges
    2.0 The Basics of Water Conservation
    2.1 Water Conservation Defined
    2.2 Water Management Principles
    2.3 Water Use Efficiency Tools
    2.3.1 Regulatory Tools
    2.3.2 Economic and Financial Tools
    2.3.3 Operations and Maintenance Tools
    2.3.4 Communication and Education Tools
    2.3.5 Market Development Tools
    3.0 Current Initiatives and Activities
    3.1 Local Governments
    3.2 Provincial Government
    3.3 Federal Government
    3.4 B.C. Water and Waste Association
    4.0 Strategic Directions
    4.1 Enable and Regulate
    4.2 Plan, Manage and Evaluate
    4.3 Value and Motivate
    4.4 Communicate and Educate
    4.5 Encourage Market Development and Innovation
    5.0 Implementing the Strategy
    5.1 Fostering Partnerships
    5.2 Leading and Coordinating
    5.3 Targeting Key Areas
    5.4 Evaluating and Reporting
    Appendix 1: Terms of Reference
    Appendix 2: Summary of Water Use Efficiency Initiatives
    Appendix 3: List of Resources


  2. FLASHBACK TO 2003: Focus Group Workshop on “The State of Water Conservation in BC” initiated Water $ave Tool Kit for BC

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    Water $ave Tool Kit for BC

    In November 2003, the BC Ministry of Water, Land & Air Protection (MWLAP), in partnership with the Water Sustainability Committee (WSC) of the BC Water & Waste Association, initiated development of a Water $ave Tool Kit for British Columbia that:

    • re-evaluates water conservation efforts in BC;
    • highlights success stories;
    • identifies gaps, barriers and opportunities, and
    • identifies further steps that need to be taken by public, private and voluntary sectors to protect and conserve water supplies.

    The Water $ave Tool Kit is one of six on-the-ground elements that will comprise the Water Sustainability Action Plan. These elements will holistically link water management with land use, development and resource production. The Action Plan is being developed as a shared responsibility through collaboration with the Province,” states Kim Stephens, WSC Program Coordinator.

    Framework for Tool Kit Development

    In its scope, the Tool Kit will consider the 1998 Water Conservation Strategy, the 2002 Drinking Water Action Plan and other related initiatives. It will also help guide:

    • the development and implementation of the Water Sustainability Action Plan (WSAP), a partnership involving MWLAP, the WSC and others; and
    • implementation of the Drought Management Action Plan (DMAP), a recent initiative spearheaded by the BC Ministry of Sustainable Resource Management.

    “The relationship between the WSAP and the Tool Kit is cascading—the WSAP will provide a strategic framework, while the Tool Kit will offer a range of on-the-ground measures and approaches that will enable individuals and communities to achieve water conservation and water-use efficiency objectives. Ultimately, it is envisioned that the Tool Kit will evolve into a web-based ‘living document’ that tracks progress and trends in BC,” explains Lynn Kriwoken, Manager of the Water Protection Section in the Water, Air & Climate Change Branch of the Ministry.

    Focus Group Workshop Held in Okanagan

    To guarantee the Tool Kit’s success, a focus group was conducted with representatives from various sectors within the water industry and the broader community. The objectives in convening the group were two-fold:

    1. meet the information-gathering and -dissemination needs of the province and stakeholders throughout BC, and
    2. provide meaningful input to the development and implementation of the WSAP and the DMAP.

    More than 40 people from three regions of BC participated in a day-long session held in the Okanagan on November 25, 2003. To download a copy of the Agenda that guided this interactive session, click on The State of Water Conservation in BC – And How Do We Move Forward From Here?


    To download a copy of a report that documents in detail how the workshop was conducted and what was accomplished in breakout groups, click on WSAP Focus Group Workshop – November 2003 Outcomes. The report also lists the participants whose commitment and collective contributions ensured that the workshop was a success.


  3. Water, Water Everywhere….Does British Columbia Really Need a Water Conservation Strategy?

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    Note to Readers:

    cover (240p) apegbc journal - 1992 article by stephens, heath and van der gulikThe more things change, the more it seems that they stay the same. As British Columbia experienced province-wide drought conditions in 2009, this provided an opportunity to reflect on insights gained and/or lessons learned from previous droughts.

    In 1992, three founding members of the BCWWA Water Sustainability Committee collaborated to present two papers on “the British Columbia drought management experience” at the Annual AWWA Conference that was held in Vancouver. Their presentations were then adapted and published as an integrated magazine article by the former BC Professional Engineer, forerunner of today’s Innovation Magazine.

    What They Wrote in 1992

    The summer of 1992 has once again heightened awareness throughout British Columbia of the limited capabilities of many existing water supply sources. Although there is a perception that BC is water-rich, the reality is that we are often seasonally water-short (mainly because of storage limitations) during the period when water demand is heaviest due to lawn and garden irrigation,” state the authors in their opening paragraph.

    “For the third time in six years, drought conditions have been experienced in the southern part of BC, and in particular the Greater Vancouver region. The 1987drought is one of the most extreme on record, with a return period rating in the order of 100 years. It followed a relatively benign period of almost half a century.”

    “The extended duration of this benign period may have lulled water supply managers into a false sense of security, especially with respect to the reliable watershed yields of surface water sources during a “dry” summer following a low snowpack winter. The last six years may possibly be reminiscent of conditions in the 1920s.”

    Link to downloadable document

    To read the complete article by Ted van der Gulik, Tom Heath and Kim Stephens, click on Water, Water Everywhere…Does British Columbia Really Need A Water Conservation Strategy?

    The authors as they looked in 1992:

    How the Water Conservation Committee has evolved over time

    In 1992, the Water Sustainability Committee was founded as the Water Conservation Committee. In 1994, the Committee renamed itself the Water Use Efficiency Committee to be consistent with the “National Action Plan on Municipal Water Use Efficiency”. In 2002, the Committee renamed itself the Water Sustainability Committee as part of a restructuring and renewal process.

    In 1997, the Committee partnered with the former Ministry of Environment, Lands and Parks to develop A Water Conservation Strategy for British Columbia. The  Committee then entered into a 3-year Partnership Agreement with Environment Canada and the Province in 1998 to promote  implementation of the Strategy province-wide. This was the genesis of the Water Sustainability Action Plan for British Columbia, released in 2004.

    Formation of the Partnership for Water Sustainability

    In 2010, the Water Sustainability Committee metamorphosed into the Partnership for Water Sustainability in British Columbia, an autonomous society. To learn more, click here.

    This story was originally posted on the former Water Sustainability Committee Community-of-Interest in August 2009. Updated in December 2010.

  4. Why Newfoundlanders are the highest water users in Canada

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    Why newfoundlanders are the highest water users in canada - banner (360p)

    “According to Canada Mortgage & Housing Corporation (CMHC), residents of Newfoundland are the highest per-capita water users in Canada….But I do not believe it,” writes Neal Klassen in his Winter 2010 article for Conservation Corner.

    Neal klassen (120p)“Mark Twain once said there are lies, damned lies and statistics. And that was over 100 years ago, before we had computers and billions of data points to analyze. All the numbers available to us these days can lead to some odd statistical reporting…”

    “Newfoundlanders are not the highest water users, statistics just make them look that way,” concludes Neal Klassen.

    By Neal Klassen, BCWWA “Watermark” contributor

    To download the complete article, click on Why Newfoundlanders are the highest water users in Canada

    Originally published in the Winter 2010 issue of Watermark Magazine, the official publication of the British Columbia Water & Waste Association (BCWWA).


    Posted April 2011

  5. “WeTap”: An Exciting New Opportunity for Public Drinking Water Fountains

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    Smartphone Application

    Peter gleick - pacific institute (144p)The Pacific Institute, in collaboration with Google, is preparing to launch an exciting new smartphone applications (app) that could help address a major water challenge: finding, supporting, and expanding the nation’s public drinking water fountains.

    Dr. Gleick, who authored Bottled and Sold: The Story of Our Obsession with Bottled Water, said, “The average American now drinks nearly 30 gallons of commercial bottled water per year, up from 1 gallon in 1980, creating plastic waste and wasting energy. One of the reasons for this explosive growth in the sales of bottled water is the disappearance of public drinking water fountains.”

    About WeTap

    The new application, under development initially for Android-capable phones, is called WeTap. It does two things:

    1. Permits smartphone users to add public drinking water fountains to a national database of fountains, with information on their location, condition, and quality, including uploading a photo; and
    2. Permits smartphone users to find a working fountain when they want one.

    The test version of WeTap is ready and volunteers are being sought to show the world where Berkeley’s drinking fountains are. The Pacific Institute is recruiting volunteers who own Android-capable phones and have gmail and Picasa photo accounts to test the application by finding water fountains and uploading them on their phones, and to provide feedback on the application.

    To Learn More:

    The Pacific Institute is a nonpartisan research institute that works to advance environmental protection, economic development, and social equity.



  6. U.S. Water Prize Ceremony Honors Leaders In Water Sustainability

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    Clean Water America Alliance

    In a ceremony attended by 200 water leaders, the Clean Water America Alliance presented the 2011 U.S. Water Prize recently to the City of Los Angeles, Milwaukee Water Council, National Great Rivers Research & Education Center, New York City Department of Environmental Protection, and the Pacific Institute.


    About the Winners

    “These Five U.S. Water Prize winners reflect the diversity of America,” declared Ben Grumbles, President of the Clean Water America Alliance. He explained by pointing out highlights of each winner's accomplishments,

    • “Los Angeles is connecting the dots and drops to show the nation how integrated resource planning, from sanitation to transportation, can save water and energy for the planet and money for people.
    • The Milwaukee Water Council is a world-class example of regional collaboration and technological innovation for a future of clean water and good jobs.
    • New York City's Department of Environmental Protection is showing the world, on a massive scale, the power of green infrastructure and resource recovery to prevent water pollution and produce clean energy.
    • The National Great Rivers Research and Education Center is a first-class facility with one of the most important missions of our time: advancing science and inspiring people to save and restore grand ecosystems that shape our communities and determine our future.
    • Last, but not least, the world needs more Pacific Institutes and Peter Gleicks to shed light and insight on water and watersheds and make the connections with clean energy and climate change policies” Grumbles concluded,

    “Each of these U.S. Water Prize winners sets a shining example for innovating, integrating, and collaborating to sustain America's liquid assets.”


    To Learn More:

    To read the complete story, click on U.S. Water Prize Ceremony Honors Leaders In Water Sustainability.


    Posted May 2011

  7. “Why a Water Soft Path, Why Now and What Then?”

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    “Why a Water Soft Path, Why Now and What Then?” is a new article co-authored by Oliver Brandes and David Brooks published in the June 2011 issue of the International Journal of Water Resources Development (available online April 2011).

    The article outlines the water soft path approach to water planning and management, which differs fundamentally from conventional, supply-based approaches. It summarizes the first applications of water soft path analytics and suggests steps for improving recognition of the water soft path as a planning tool that can move management and policies towards economic, ecological, and social sustainability.


    Posted April 2011

  8. City of Kelowna Takes Smart Landscaping Approach

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    Reduce Water Use By a Further 15%

    The City of Kelowna is implementing smart landscaping practices. The new landscaping standards will help to reduce water consumption across the city and reduce residential landscaping water consumption by a further 15 per cent.

    “These landscaping and design regulations are consistent with industry best practices, making Kelowna the first city in BC to set this level of landscape Don degen - city of kelownawater usage standards,” say Don Degen, Manager Utility Services. “The process will help property owners learn how to attractively landscape their yards while conserving water.” Under the new bylaw, property owners building new homes or renovating existing outdoor landscape irrigation systems will be required to apply for a City permit prior to installing or renovating their irrigation system. Property owners with irrigation systems less than 100 sqare metres would be exempt from this requirement.

    Neal klassen (120p)“We recognize that the permit process may be new for some and property owners may need assistance with designing their spaces,” says Neal Klassen, Water Smart Coordinator. “A great place to start is the landscape guide. The guide provides information on smart irrigation and identifies why we need to reduce landscape water use.”

    Property owners will be required to apply to the City for a permit and submit a landscape water conservation report under the proposed changes. Worksheets have been developed to assist property owners and will be available on the City’s website.


    To Learn More:

    The Landscape and Irrigation guide is available at

    Landscape & irrigation guide to water efficiency

    Posted April 2011

  9. Making the Most of the Water We Have: The Soft Path Approach to Water Management

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    The Soft Path Approach

    First published in June 2009, Making the Most of the Water We Have is the most comprehensive water soft path resource to date. Edited by the POLIS Project on Ecological Governance’s David B. Brooks and Oliver M. Brandes, and environmental consultant Stephen Gurman, it compiles the writings of more than 20 water scientists, policy advisors and analysts, and political ecologists.

    This is the first comprehensive analysis of the water soft path, drawing on studies from Canada and around the world. Making the Most of the Water We Have demonstrates that soft path analyses are both analytical and practical. It emphasizes that soft paths, beyond being conceptually attractive, can be economically and politically feasible.
    The paperback edition was released in March 2011.


    A Management Strategy That Frees Up Water

    Based on the “soft path” approach to the energy sector, a transition is now under way to a soft path for water. This approach starts by ensuring that ecosystem needs for water are satisfied and then undertakes a radical approach to reducing human uses of water by economic and social incentives, including open decision-making, water markets and equitable pricing, and the application of super-efficient technology, all applied in ways that avoid jeopardizing quality of life.

    The soft path for water is therefore a management strategy that frees up water by curbing water waste. This book is the first to present and apply the water soft path approach. It has three aims: to bring to a wider audience the concept and the potential of water soft paths; to demonstrate that soft path analysis is analytical and practical, and not just “eco-dreaming”; and to indicate that soft paths are not only conceptually attractive but that they can be made economically and politically feasible. Includes a tool kit for planners and other practitioners.


    To Learn More:

    To read what others are saying about Making the Most of the Water We Have, click on these links to previously published book reviews:

    Click on the image below to read about the authors and to view the table of contents.

    Soft path approach - paperback version (510p)

    Posted April 2011

  10. New Water Soft Path Strategy Proposed for the Ontario Communities of Fergus and Elora

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    Towards Water Sustainability

    The POLIS Water Sustainability Project, working with the Grand River Conservation Authority and Township of Centre Wellington, has developed a proposed water soft path strategy for the Ontario communities of Fergus and Elora as part of its water soft path pilot project program. The detailed analysis and action plan outlines specific steps the community can take to achieve water sustainability over the next 30 years.


    Focus on Efficiency and Conservation

    In Fergus-Elora, population and water use are expected to double between 2008 and 2040. The region is dependent on groundwater and if no conservation measures are taken the existing groundwater supply will likely require expansion by 2028.

    Water soft paths offer solutions that work within ecological limits and promote community and citizen involvement in water management. The new water soft path strategy for Fergus-Elora outlines approaches that focus on both efficiency and conservation.

    The recommended approach for Fergus-Elora is to “use the same water tomorrow we use today,” which accommodates all future population and economic growth to 2040, and beyond, using the same amount of water used in 2008.


    An Alternative Component of Master Plan

    The new soft path strategy will be considered as an alternative component of the Township of Centre Wellington’s formal Water Servicing Master Plan for the Towns of Fergus and Elora. In addition, the Grand River Conservation Authority is in the process of developing a more general, long-term Water Management Plan for the Grand River watershed. Water soft path planning will also be considered as a component of this plan, offered as a “tool” that municipalities can use to address long-term water supply concerns.

    The strategy was developed as part of the WSP’s national, water soft path pilot project program and as part of the Action H20 initiative in partnership with Sierra Club Canada, which is supported by the Royal Bank of Canada Blue Water Project. The project was initiated by the Grand River Conservation Authority in partnership with the Township of Centre Wellington, the Elora Environment Centre, and the University of Waterloo. It received support from the Government of Ontario's Drinking Water Stewardship Program and was written by Carol Maas, Innovation and Technology Director, and Susanne Porter-Bopp, Community Water Coordinator at the POLIS WSP.

    To download the soft path strategy, technical appendices, and a GRCA water use survey for the towns of Fergus and Elora, please click here.


    Posted July 2011