Author Archives: Partnership for Water Sustainability

  1. WATCH THE VIDEO / WATER AND A CHANGING CLIMATE: “Because the earth is a closed-loop system, new water is not being created. What is changing in British Columbia is the seasonal distribution. Longer, drier summers are followed by warmer, wetter winters. Extreme droughts followed by extreme floods show just how unbalanced the seasonal water cycle is now. This is our new reality,” stated Kim Stephens, Partnership for Water Sustainability (July 2021)

    Comments Off on WATCH THE VIDEO / WATER AND A CHANGING CLIMATE: “Because the earth is a closed-loop system, new water is not being created. What is changing in British Columbia is the seasonal distribution. Longer, drier summers are followed by warmer, wetter winters. Extreme droughts followed by extreme floods show just how unbalanced the seasonal water cycle is now. This is our new reality,” stated Kim Stephens, Partnership for Water Sustainability (July 2021)

     

    Water and a Changing Climate: Drought Affects Us All

    “The Partnership for Water Sustainability has its roots in government – provincial, federal, and most importantly, local government. Over three decades, the Partnership has evolved – from a technical committee in the 1990s,to a water roundtable in the first decade of the 2000s, to a legal entity in 2010,” stated Kim Stephens. Partnership Executive Director, in his opening remarks at Bowen Island Municipality’s Climate Conversations in July 2021.

    The theme for the virtual workshop session was Climate Conversation: Water Conservation Innovation. Kim’s presentation was titled Water and a Changing Climate: Drought Affects Us All.

     

    Role of the Partnership for Water Sustainability

    “Incorporation of the Partnership for Water Sustainability as a non-profit society allows us to carry on the Living Water Smart mission. We are growing a network, not building an organization. In terms of my professional career as a water resource engineer and planner, I have been in the right place at the right time, and with the right people.”

    “In a nutshell, my responsibilities revolve around delivering the Water Sustainability Action Plan through partnerships and collaboration, through a local government network. This background provides me with context and perspective regarding how the local water balance is changing due to global changes in the water cycle, and what BC communities must do to adapt.”

    Growing a Network Through Collaborative Leadership

    “Collaborative leadership uses the power of influence rather than positional authority to engage and align individuals and organizations within a network, and deliver results across organizational boundaries. Success depends on creating an environment of trust, mutual respect, and shared aspiration in which all the players can contribute to achieving collective goals.”

    To Learn More:

    Download a PDF copy of Living Water Smart in British  Columbia: Power of Collaborative Leadership, released in June 2021.

    A Career Perspective

    “A long career provides perspective. In my five decades as water resource planner and engineer, there are three years that really stand out in British Columbia when the topic is water conservation,”

    “After what in respect was a benign half-century, 1987 was British Columbia’s first wake up call. The drought was unprecedented in living memory. Few people are aware that the Metro Vancouver region came within two weeks of the water storage dams being completely empty. There was no Plan B. All anyone could do was hope the rains would come in November. And they did. The downpour on November 2, 1987  broke the drought.”

    “The 1987 drought was a defining moment in that it started changing the conversation about water conservation in BC from folks asking why should we even c0nsider using less water, to a consensus emerging that we do need match water demand to water supply. But it took until 1992, after we experienced our third drought, before people stopped asking the why question.”

    Truly Teachable Years

    “But it was 2003 that truly was what we call ‘the teachable year.’ The Okanagan Valley was on fire, about 27,000 people were evacuated from the City of Kelowna, and several hundred homes were lost. This really got the attention of British Columbians that the climate was indeed changing. It was the 2003 teachable year that created the opportunity for the Partnership to develop and implement the Water Sustainability Plan for British Columbia through partnerships and collaboration. My Action Plan responsibilities continue to this day.”

    “In 2015, the West Coast of North America crossed an invisible threshold into a different hydro-meteorological regime. And it has happened faster than anyone expected. Our new reality is longer, drier summers. A generation ago, water supply managers could reasonably anticipate that three months of water storage would be sufficient to maintain supply during a drought summer. Today, however, a 6-month drought is a very real likelihood. It is necessary to plan accordingly. Communities need double the storage volume.”

    Watch the YouTube Video!

    To view the presentation by Kim Stephens, watch the 28-minute segment that begins at the 6-minute and concludes at the 34-minute mark. And if you wish to learn about drought-tolerant plants, continue watching to learn from the experience of Kathy Leishman of the Bowen Island Garden Club who says:

    “Our garden has developed into two areas, with each having a different focus. The seaside area was planned to be drought tolerant and deer resistant, and has certainly been the most interesting area. Lots of testing and learning going on, even after 23 years! The north side of the house is fenced, and more conventional in planting.”

    To Learn More:

    To view the PowerPoint presentation by Kim Stephens, download a copy of  Water and a Changing Climate: Drought Affects Us All.

    The Summer 2021 issue of the Asset Management BC Newsletter includes an article co-authored by Kim Stephens to open minds about foundational concepts upon which to build climate adaptation strategies that result in whole-system water management outcomes.

    To read the complete article, download a copy of Restore the Balance in Water Balance – Climate Change is Another Variable When Planning for Sustainable Service Delivery, Dealing With Uncertainty, and Managing Risk

    In addition, download a copy of Living Water Smart in British Columbia: Dealing with Uncertainty and Managing Risk.

     

  2. WATER SUPPLY IN BRITISH COLUMBIA’S CHANGING CLIMATE: “Since 2000, summer precipitation has dropped about 20 per cent. This step change is unusual,” stated Hans Schreier, a professor emeritus of land and water systems at the University of British Columbia (July 2021)

    Comments Off on WATER SUPPLY IN BRITISH COLUMBIA’S CHANGING CLIMATE: “Since 2000, summer precipitation has dropped about 20 per cent. This step change is unusual,” stated Hans Schreier, a professor emeritus of land and water systems at the University of British Columbia (July 2021)

    Note to Reader:

    After a period of relative hydro-climatic stability, changes in the composition of the Earth’s atmosphere have resulted in the acceleration of the global hydrologic cycle with huge implications for every region of the world and every sector of the global economy. We can expect deeper, more persistent drought punctuated by flooding. In 2015, the drought that extended over most of the year from winter through spring and summer, and geographically from Vancouver Island to Manitoba and from Mexico to the Yukon suggested we had crossed an invisible threshold into a different hydro-meteorological regime in Western North America. Every year since, with the exception of 2020, has confirmed British Columbia’s new reality: longer, drier summers and warmer, wetter winters.

    Mother Nature is ticked off. Can you blame her?

    “Fires. Floods. Mudslides. Rivers and reservoirs drying up. Record heat. Rising shorelines. Glacial melting. The Earth is in peril, and many are finally realizing they can no longer think of Earth as the open armed goddess dispensing blessings and bounty to us — especially if we take no steps to curb the activities and habits that have sent carbon dioxide emissions soaring,” wrote Michele Norris in her column published by the Washington Post on July 30, 2021.

    “The defining struggle of our time, and our future, will be the tension between Mother Nature and human nature. So, more of us need to think differently about who and what we are dealing with here. That seems to have finally begun.”

    The New Climate Reality in British Columbia

    “Michele’s second quotable quotable, about the need to think directly, provides relevant context for what we can and must do to adjust to longer and drier summers in British Columbia,” stated Kim Stephens, Executive Director, Partnership for Water Sustainability in British Columbia. “Conceptually, it sounds straightforward  to state that we must get our seasonal water use in balance with a changing water cycle. However, pulling this off will require doing many little things over time. Cumulative benefits do add up.

    “To provide us with an attention-grabber, Hans Schreier, professor emeritus of land and water systems at the University of British Columbia, has done some invaluable number crunching. In easy to understand terms, Hans has quantified what our new climate reality means from a water supply perspective. He has examined historical precipitation data for multiple stations. He has developed a comparison of long-term averages for two periods: before the year 2000 and since 2000. This comparison provides us with an order-of-magnitude.”

    Unusual Changes in Summer Precipitation in the Lower Fraser Region of British Columbia

    “Most long-term climate stations within the Lower Mainland region of British Columbia have a 50 to 75-year record. Over this time period, there had been an increasing trend in summer precipitation (May-Aug) until around 2000. Since that time (2000-2020), however, there has been a step change to a lower rate of precipitation of around 20 percent,” explained Hans Schreier.

    “This trend is consistent for all of the 8 stations that I examined, namely: Vancouver Airport, Vancouver Harbour, West Vancouver, Gibsons, Squamish, Pemberton, Abbotsford, and Agassiz.”

    “This step change is unusual and one of the possible explanations could be that in 1998-99 we had a major El Nino event, which could possible have influenced the ocean current and jet stream to change the phase of the summer precipitation.”

    “This step change is not visible for the winter precipitation, which shows no real changing trend.  This explanation is of course speculative and much more research is needed to provide a more concise explanation.”

    “What is also of importance is that there has been a consistent increasing temperature trends over the entire 50 to 70-year record and this should be of concern for agricultural and municipal water use.”

    In media interviews, Hans Schreier commented on recent list of climate disasters, including fires in western North America, and floods in China and Europe. “The drought this year (2021) is just one of many unusual weather patterns around the world being driven by climate change.”

    He said it’s becoming increasingly difficult to predict weather because old, reliable patterns are breaking down. “That’s going to be the norm, and it’s going to be continuous variability — and it’s those extremes which are really worrying.”

    Soil is a Primary Water Management Tool

    Hans Schreier is an advocate for restoring the soil sponge in urban areas.

    “Soil can hold more water than all the rivers in the world. If you build a new house, what is the first thing you do? You remove the topsoil. Then you bring in the bulldozers and compact everything. And then, you put in the lawn, which is about 30 millimetres of soil.

    “Why not have a bylaw that for every new house, before they put in the lawn, they have to have 300 millimetres of topsoil. That would save you massive amounts of irrigation water.” These measures would all reduce pressure on Metro Vancouver’s three reservoirs during the summer, Schreier said.

    “We have options, and most of the options are not expensive. But it means public education and the willingness politically to bite the bullet and do this properly.”

    A Shrinking Safety Factor

    “Climate change has aggravated an existing vulnerability related to seasonal supply of water in BC. Over time, the safety factor has been shrinking. While it rains a lot in BC, we do not have an abundance of supply when demand is greatest. In addition, the mountainous nature of BC’s geography means that BC communities are typically storage-constrained, and what storage they do have is measured in weeks to months,” added Kim Stephens.

    “As of 2015, we clearly crossed an invisible threshold into a different hydrometeorological regime in Western North America. Winters are warmer and wetter. Summers are longer and drier. This new reality has huge consequences for water security, sustainability, and resiliency.”

    “A generation ago, water supply managers could reasonably anticipate that three months of water storage would be sufficient to maintain supply during a dry summer. Today, however, a 6-month drought is a very real likelihood, and on a repeating basis. In the meantime, populations have also grown in the major centres.”

    Where to Focus Resiliency Efforts

    “Because many factors are in play, an over-arching goal for sustainable water supply management would be to build in resiliency that addresses risk,” continued Robert Hicks, City of Vancouver. “If communities are vulnerable on the supply side, then it would make sense to build in resiliency on the use side. There is no silver bullet. Communities need to do many little things. Over time the cumulative benefits of doing many things do add up.”

    “One of the little things that would yield cumulative benefits is requiring a foot of soil for all development sites so that there is a sponge that reduces water need and prevents water runoff.”

    TO LEARN MORE:

    The Summer 2021 issue of the Asset Management BC Newsletter includes an article co-written by Kim Stephens and Robert Hicks to open minds about foundational concepts upon which to build climate adaptation strategies that result in whole-system water management outcomes.

    To read the complete article, download a copy of Restore the Balance in Water Balance – Climate Change is Another Variable When Planning for Sustainable Service Delivery, Dealing With Uncertainty, and Managing Risk

    In addition, download a copy of Living Water Smart in British Columbia: Dealing with Uncertainty and Managing Risk.

  3. DROUGHTS AFFECT ALL OF US: 42 days and counting – no end in sight for dry spell, which began after Metro Vancouver’s last measurable rainfall on June 15, 2021

    Comments Off on DROUGHTS AFFECT ALL OF US: 42 days and counting – no end in sight for dry spell, which began after Metro Vancouver’s last measurable rainfall on June 15, 2021

    Note to Reader:

    Currently, Metro Vancouver’s source reservoirs can be maintained nearly full under normal conditions from October to March. Snowpack typically starts melting around April, and the reservoirs are drawn down until early fall when the rain returns. ​​Metro Vancouver posts weekly reservoir storage levels from May to October, when rainfall is lower and the regional demand for water can increase by 50%.

    Metro Vancouver storage depletion curve as of July 25, 2021, Note that data from 2015 is included, to show impact of extreme dry weather conditions on total source storage.

    Lower Mainland edging toward 70-year-old record for days without rain

    “As Metro Vancouver heads into Day 43 of drought on Wednesday, officials are asking residents to keep the six-week-long lack of precipitation in mind when they think about watering their lawn or washing their car,” wrote Gordon McIntyre in a Vancouver Sun newspaper published on July 27, 2021.

    “The record for no measurable rain at Vancouver International Airport is 58 days.”

    Quotable Quote

    We’re keeping a close eye on things. The lakes have stopped filling, and we have a finite volume of water we’re working with until we get the next significant rains, typically later in summer or the fall,” said Marilyn Towill, general manager of water services with Metro Vancouver.

    To Learn More:

    Download a copy of No end in sight for dry spell, which began after Metro Vancouver’s last measurable rainfall on June 15.

    A Shrinking Safety Factor

    “Climate change has aggravated an existing vulnerability related to seasonal supply of water in BC. Over time, the safety factor has been shrinking. While it rains a lot in BC, we do not have an abundance of supply when demand is greatest. In addition, the mountainous nature of BC’s geography means that BC communities are typically storage-constrained, and what storage they do have is measured in weeks to months,” said Kim Stephens, Executive Director, Partnership for Water Sustainability in British Columbia.

    “As of 2015, we clearly crossed an invisible threshold into a different hydrometeorological regime in Western North America. Winters are warmer and wetter. Summers are longer and drier. This new reality has huge consequences for water security, sustainability, and resiliency.”

    “A generation ago, water supply managers could reasonably anticipate that three months of water storage would be sufficient to maintain supply during a dry summer. Today, however, a 6-month drought is a very real likelihood, and on a repeating basis. In the meantime, populations have also grown in the major centres.”

    Where to Focus Resiliency Efforts

    “Because many factors are in play, an over-arching goal for sustainable water supply management would be to build in resiliency that addresses risk. If communities are vulnerable on the supply side, then it would make sense to build in resiliency on the use side. There is no silver bullet. Communities need to do many little things. Over time the cumulative benefits of doing many things do add up.”

    “One of the little things that would yield cumulative benefits is requiring a foot of soil for all development sites so that there is a sponge that reduces water need and prevents water runoff.”

    TO LEARN MORE:

    The Summer 2021 issue of the Asset Management BC Newsletter includes an article co-written by Kim Stephens and Robert Hicks to open minds about foundational concepts upon which to build climate adaptation strategies that result in whole-system water management outcomes.

    To read the complete article, download a copy of Restore the Balance in Water Balance – Climate Change is Another Variable When Planning for Sustainable Service Delivery, Dealing With Uncertainty, and Managing Risk

    In addition, download a copy of Living Water Smart in British Columbia: Dealing with Uncertainty and Managing Risk.

     

     

  4. DROUGHTS AFFECT ALL OF US: “A generation ago, water supply managers could reasonably anticipate that three months of water storage would be sufficient to maintain supply during a dry summer. Today, however, a 6-month drought is a very real likelihood,” stated Kim Stephens, Executive Director, Partnership for Water Sustainability in BC (July 2021)

    Comments Off on DROUGHTS AFFECT ALL OF US: “A generation ago, water supply managers could reasonably anticipate that three months of water storage would be sufficient to maintain supply during a dry summer. Today, however, a 6-month drought is a very real likelihood,” stated Kim Stephens, Executive Director, Partnership for Water Sustainability in BC (July 2021)

    The Summer 2021 issue of the Asset Management BC Newsletter includes an article co-written by Kim Stephens and Robert Hicks of the Partnership for Water Sustainability to open minds about foundational concepts upon which to build climate adaptation strategies that result in whole-system water management outcomes.

    DOWNLOAD A COPY:

    Restore the Balance in Water Balance – Climate Change is Another Variable When Planning for Sustainable Service Delivery, Dealing With Uncertainty, and Managing Risk

    Restore the Balance in the Water Balance

    “Robert Hicks and I have observed that, for all the talk over a long period of time about climate change and what it means, many local government practitioners still lack a full understanding of some foundational concepts and how to translate such concepts into resilient solutions and actions that would benefit their communities. In our article, we provide food for thought,” stated Kim Stephens.

    “Too often, in our experience, there is a tendency to add layers of complexity and lose sight of the nature of a problem as well as the obvious solution. Our purpose in writing the article, then, was introduce the Asset Management BC readership to a foundational concept, namely Water OUT=Water IN, and open minds to spark conversations within local governments about what this deceptively simple equation means from the operational perspective.”

    A Shrinking Safety Factor

    “Climate change has aggravated an existing vulnerability related to seasonal supply of water in BC. Over time, the safety factor has been shrinking. While it rains a lot in BC, we do not have an abundance of supply when demand is greatest. In addition, the mountainous nature of BC’s geography means that BC communities are typically storage-constrained, and what storage they do have is measured in weeks to months.”

    “As of 2015, we clearly crossed an invisible threshold into a different hydrometeorological regime in Western North America. Winters are warmer and wetter. Summers are longer and drier. This new reality has huge consequences for water security, sustainability, and resiliency.”

    “A generation ago, water supply managers could reasonably anticipate that three months of water storage would be sufficient to maintain supply during a dry summer. Today, however, a 6-month drought is a very real likelihood, and on a repeating basis. In the meantime, populations have also grown in the major centres.”

    Dealing with Uncertainty and Managing Risk

    “The key message in our article is that climate change is not a driver; rather, it is another variable. Climate change is only one factor to consider when we talk about sustainable infrastructure and sustainable water supply. The real issues are uncertainty and risk, more specifically how we deal with the first and manage the latter,” continued Robert Hicks.

    “A constant challenge for planning is not to prevent past events, but instead is to use past experiences to inform and create flexible strategies for the present and the future.  Furthermore, this need for flexibility is not restricted to the immediate scope of the problem at hand; but must also consider the broader juggling of evolving local government priorities and service demands.”

    “This leads to the challenge of assessing problems with sufficient complexity to arrive at flexible and resilient solutions, while at the same time not being overwhelmed and paralyzed by over-analysis.”

    “Climate change impacts are risks which can be addressed by aligning asset lifecycles to performance or change thresholds which consider how levels-of-service are likely to deteriorate in response to climate changes impacts. Lifecycles must therefore be considered and re-aligned with the new changing ‘normal’ conditions.”

    Climate Change Impacts are Not Optional

    “If we look at the variability in climate change impact scenarios that may occur within many asset lifecycles, we may get distracted by the uncertainty and statistical variance of the magnitude among the anticipated changes for key parameters that inform levels-of-service.”

    “Another way to consider this variance and uncertainty is to not look at the variation of key parameters for a given future year, but rather consider the time-range that a key performance threshold might be reached.”

    “For asset management, the consideration is how and when assets might be compromised in their lifecycle by climate change and certainly that new assets need to consider what climate change impacts will affect their lifecycle and levels-of-service.”

    To Learn More:

    To read the complete article, download a copy of Restore the Balance in Water Balance – Climate Change is Another Variable When Planning for Sustainable Service Delivery, Dealing With Uncertainty, and Managing Risk

    In addition, download a copy of Living Water Smart in British Columbia: Dealing with Uncertainty and Managing Risk.

     

  5. 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

    Comments Off on 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

    NOTE TO READER:

    Targeting seasonal outdoor water use represents the best opportunity to achieve “water use in balance with a changing water cycle”. The article below shines the spotlight on the Partnership for Water Sustainability’s program to operationalize use of the BC Landscape Water Calculator, the newest tool in the Partnership toolbox. The Calculator is up and running in three regions: Okanagan, Vancouver Island and Fraser Valley.

    Readers have a choice of scrolling down to read this story entirely online, or alternatively, download a PDF copy of the report-style version for later ease of reference and sharing.

    DOWNLOAD: Living Water Smart in British Columbia: Operationalizing the BC Landscape Water Calculator

    DOWNLOAD: https://waterbucket.ca/wcp/wp-content/uploads/sites/6/2021/06/PWSBC_Living-Water-Smart_BC-Landscape-Water-Calculator_June-2021.pdf

     

    EDITOR’S PERSPECTIVE on Water Use in Balance with a Changing Water Cycle

    “Warmer and wetter winters; longer and drier summers. When supply is at a minimum, demand is at a maximum. This is British Columbia’s new reality. Adapting means that we must view water differently. Our seasonal use of water for yard and garden irrigation must be in balance with a changing water cycle,” stated Kim Stephens, Waterbucket eNews Editor and Executive Director, Partnership for Water Sustainability in British Columbia.

    “To achieve the goal of water sustainability, the 45 actions and targets in Living Water Smart, British Columbia’s Water Plan establish expectations for Doing Business Differently, Preparing Communities for Change, and Choosing to Be Water Smart.”

    “To support necessary changes in water resource and demand management practice, the Partnership and governments are collaborating to develop resources and implement science-based tools that build understanding and influence choices. One of these tools is the BC Landscape Water Calculator.”

    “Widespread use of this online, public domain tool would help communities meet their targets for allowable water use and total demand reduction at the property and community scales, respectively.”


    A Storyline in Three Parts


    “To paint a broad-brush picture of evolving expectations and requirements, the storyline that follows is structured in three cascading parts. First, an over-arching context. Then, a description of the BC Landscape Water Calculator. And finally, an overview of local government perspectives in the three regions where the tool now supports water conservation programs.”

    “Provincial grant programs are aligned with water conservation targets, and Water Conservation Plans are a requirement. With many plans now being more than 5 years old, it is time for a refresh. And this is where the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing believes the BC Landscape Water Calculator has a timely fit.”

     

    PART ONE:
    Ministry Expectations Evolve into Contract Requirements for Grants

    “A longstanding goal of the Ministry of the Municipal Affairs and Housing is to find a balance between supporting those local governments who are leaders, while over time raising the bar to encourage the rest,” reports Brian Bedford, Executive Director, Local Government Infrastructure & Finance, Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing.

    “Going back 15 years to the mid-2000s, the Province recognized the need to encourage better water conservation by water users and water purveyors in BC. The question was – what policy levers were available to help make that change, and what would incentivize it? And so, the Ministry found an opportunity to align provincial grant programs with water conservation targets.”

    “The Ministry defined the Water Conservation Condition as the contractual mechanism of choice. It is written into all contracts for infrastructure grants as a requirement. It must be satisfied before grants are fully paid out. The Water Conservation Condition has been the lynchpin for the Ministry’s multi-year approach to incentivizing changes in practice.”

    Mandatory Requirement for Water Conservation Plans

    “Over time, the process has been one of incrementally raising the bar in defined steps – awareness first, then education, and finally, full implementation. In the case of Water Conservation Plans, it went from being questions to becoming an optional document, to being a conditional requirement on approved contracts.”

    “The bar has been raised and no longer can a local government simply state in an application that they have a Water Conservation Plan endorsed by Council or Board resolution. A Water Conservation Plan is a mandatory document to even apply for an infrastructure grant. When a grant application is submitted, the Ministry asks for confirmation that an up-to-date plan has been approved by Council or Board resolution within the last 5 years.”

    Pointing the Way to the BC Water Landscape Water Calculator:

    “Currently, the Water Conservation Condition points to the Water Conservation Calculator, an online decision support tool implemented more than a decade by the Ministry in collaboration with the Partnership for Water Sustainability. This front-end tool initially helped to leverage development of Water Conservation Plans across the province. A majority of local governments across the province now has such plans. This represents cumulative progress over time.”

    “With many of those Water Conservation Plans now being more than 5 years old, it is time for a refresh. And this is where the Ministry believes the new BC Landscape Water Calculator has a timely fit. The tool is an exciting new evolution. It would allow local governments to further support their Water Conservation Plans with the next piece of education for those who are actually turning on the taps at their homes.”

    “Moving forward, updating the Water Conservation Condition for the next iteration of the grants program would create the opportunity to also integrate the BC Landscape Water Calculator and start nudging local governments to be aware of the tool. Initially, we would flag it as an available tool that local governments can explore and work with.”

     

    Updating of the Water Conservation Condition

    “Prior to payment by the Province in excess of 75% of the approved funding amount, local governments must provide an update on their water conservation work and the goals that have been accomplished by the existing plan during the period following Council or Board approval.”

    “The Ministry requires that the local government include both an assessment of what their successes have been, and a look ahead as to where their Water Conservation Plan is going next.”

    “It is in the look ahead that one can foresee the opportunity for a local government to identify what role the BC Landscape Water Calculator could play in achieving water conservation targets and further reducing water use in the community, concludes Brian Bedford.

     

    PART TWO:
    BC Landscape Water Calculator: Science-Based / Evolving Through Collaboration

    “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,” explains Ted van der Gulik, Chair, BC Landscape Water Calculator Program. Prior to retirement from government, he was the Senior Engineer in the Ministry of Agriculture.

    “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. The objective is to find the combination that is within the allowable water budget for the location.”

    “Now any property owner in BC can zoom in to their property and quantify their outdoor water need based on climate, soil, plant type and irrigation system. Over time, province-wide use of the tool would result in enhanced resiliency of community water supplies, by developing landscapes that are water efficient.”

    To Learn More:

    View an online demo of the tool by Ted van der Gulik on YouTube. Then test drive the BC Landscape Water Calculator at http://bcwatercalculator.ca/landscape/irrigation

     

    Program for Operationalizing the Calculator Across British Columbia

    “A substantial grant from the RBC Blue Water Project enabled the Partnership to develop the BC Landscape Water Calculator. The grant made it possible for us to accelerate the timeline for implementing an idea. When we shared our vision with RBC Blue Water staff, they immediately grasped the potential of the tool. They urged us to submit a funding application asap.”

    “It is always about the right people in the right place at the right time. The City of Kelowna was also enthusiastic about the tool. Staff could see how the calculator would support Kelowna’s requirement for a Landscape Water Conservation Report as part of the City’s adaptation of the Qualified Water Efficient Landscaper program (QWEL). And so, the City agreed to facilitate the RBC Blue Water grant on behalf of the Partnership. The stars were in alignment. The BC Landscape Water Calculator initiative was well and truly launched.”

    The First Cohort of Demonstration Applications:

    “Within the past 12 months, the Partnership has collaborated with three local governments to operationalize the BC Landscape Water Calculator in three regions: Okanagan (City of Kelowna), Fraser Valley (City of Abbotsford) and Vancouver Island (Capital Regional District). With each application, there is a new twist. Each time, we evolve the tool to meet the needs of our partners. Everyone benefits. This is the power of the collaborative approach.”

    “The tool is universal, but the drivers for local governments using it are different. The Kelowna version is oriented to contractors who must submit reports as a requirement of the QWEL program. In the case of Abbotsford, the focus is squarely on homeowners who wish to apply for a $250 Waterwise Landscape Rebate. In the Capital Regional Region, the tool supports Live Green and Work Green educational programs in the residential and commercial sectors, respectively.”

    “Customizing of the tool for each region included plant selection dropdowns. Sounds innocuous, doesn’t it? Not so! There is no readily available resource for water efficient plants in British Columbia. The Partnership had to customize a database for each region. This is a key resource; and is unique to the BC Landscape Water Calculator.

    “But the inventory of water efficient plants is accessible only in communities where the local government is a project partner. In addition to this valuable feature, the calculator provides users with guidance as to whether plant selections are suitable for sun exposure or shade. Think about why that is important.”

     

    PART THREE:
    Operationalizing the BC Landscape Water Calculator to Design Water Efficient Yards and Gardens – Three Case Studies

    Targeting seasonal outdoor water use represents the best opportunity to achieve “water use in balance with a changing water cycle”. The Calculator is up and running in three regions: Okanagan, Vancouver Island and Fraser Valley. Continue reading to learn about each of three case studies:

    City of Kelowna
    City of Abbotsford
    Capital Regional District

     

    CASE STUDY 1:
    Landscape Water Conservation Reporting in Kelowna

    “Over the past decade, collaboration with the City of Kelowna was a natural fit to both build the BC Landscape Water Calculator and undertake a pilot demonstration application,” reports Ted van der Gulik. “The City has implemented innovative approaches to management of water use and landscape irrigation, such as the QWEL program. The City has an oversight system in place to ensure that landscape design and irrigation design work together to achieve water efficiency.”

    “QWEL, the Qualified Water Efficient Landscaper certification program, is a great way for homeowners to ensure that landscape and irrigation contractors have water conservation in mind, consider native landscape material, and provide top notch workmanship in their services,” adds Ed Hoppe, Water Quality and Customer Care Supervisor, City of Kelowna.

    “The City’s approval process for integration of landscape and irrigation system design is keyed to three requirements. First, use of turf-grass is limited to a maximum of 60% of the site. Secondly, irrigation systems must be sized so that water use would not exceed the allowable annual water budget. Thirdly, a Landscape Water Conservation Report must be submitted for the City’s approval.”

     

    CASE STUDY 2:
    Irrigation and Landscape Water Efficiency in Abbotsford

    “I started with the City of Abbotsford in 2010 at a time when water conservation was really ramping up because of high peak demands in the late 2000s,” recalls Amy Peters. She coordinates the City’s water conservation program.

    A regional bulk water supply system serves the City of Abbotsford (south side of Fraser River) and District of Mission (north side of the river). The principal supply source is Norrish Creek/Dickson Lake.

    Context for Water Use Efficiency

    “Because the Fraser Valley’s population had been (and still is) growing so fast, our peak demands were getting quite high a decade ago. In addition to looking for a new water source, the City’s immediate priority was to target peak demands to reduce total water use.”

    “In 2011, Abbotsford became the first municipality in Canada to implement Advanced Metering Infrastructure (smart meters). Soon after, the City switched from an annual water billing to bi-monthly billing.”

    “We were really lucky. Implementation of the smart meters combined with the changes in billing made a massive difference. We saw a 20 to 30 percent drop in peak demand! This level has held steady over the past decade and bought us time to explore different source options.”

    You Manage What You Can Measure

    “In 2011, the City looked at options to reduce peak water demands due to the high cost of a new water source. This included conservation, optimizing existing sources and system efficiencies. Several different conservation programs were explored, one of the programs implemented was a voluntary program for irrigation and landscape water efficiency,” continues Amy Peters.

    Irrigation and Landscape Water Efficiency Program:

    “This program involved doing assessments of individual properties. Because they were in-depth, the assessments took a lot of time. We did not know whether the impact was great or small. Our rationale was that it is more about building awareness.”

    “These assessments led homeowners to ask for incentives. In turn, this led to the rebate program. And so, we wanted to find a way to evaluate the program and demonstrate that there were water savings.”

    “The solution to our need was the BC Landscape Water Calculator. The value of the calculator is that homeowners can now provide us with a report that shows how their choice of water efficient plants and landscape design meets their water budget.  The report is the basis for payment of a rebate.”

    Managing Peak Water Demand: 

    “The City sees the BC Landscape Water Calculator in helping us manage our peak demand. It really is about building the awareness through education. I like that the calculator will be able to show people just how much they can reduce their water use.”

    “Many homeowners are now familiar with how much they are using because the number is on their utility bill. It really is important that they be able to see how much outdoor water use contributes to their total water demand. The BC Landscape Water Calculator does this.”

    Conversion of Lawns to Water Efficient Landscapes: 

    “I have been looking at different ways to market water conservation. It is something that I really want to focus on. We already have sprinkler patrols, the main purpose of which is education. The patrol members also talk to homeowners about the Irrigation and Landscape Program.”

    “We are encouraging people to transform their front yards by replacing grass with water efficient plants. We are promoting both water efficient and native plants. The BC Landscape Water Calculator provides them with choices for both. An unintended outcome of customizing the tool for Abbotsford is in the way it gives homeowners direction for plant selection. This is powerful.”

    To support the City of Abbotsford’s use of the BC Landscape Water Calculator, the Partnership for Water Sustainability developed a database of common waterwise plants that can be used towards the City’s Water Wise Landscape Rebate Program. An important feature of the Calculator is how the dropdown settings guide the user selection of native and water efficient plants depending on whether planting locations are in the sun, shade, or a combination.

     

    CASE STUDY 3:
    Live Green, Work Green in the Capital Regional District

    “The BC Landscape Water Calculator is yet another example of how being one of the partners in the Water Sustainability Partnership means that local governments can benefit from the work of others, and then take that work a little bit further each time,” observes Glenn Harris.

    He is the Senior Manager of the CRD’s environmental protection team. The team has responsibility for CRD water conservation initiatives and programs. Their work covers both the residential and business sectors. For the latter, the primary focus is on the owners of large properties that have multiple dwelling units.

    “The cities of Kelowna and Abbotsford were instrumental in operationalizing the tool. Now, the CRD has come on board. As well, CRD has a different water regime and climate. This inter-regional collaboration showcases how the BC Water Landscape Calculator is adaptable to different regions that have different concerns and constraints around water supply.”

    Vision for Integrated “Live Green” Program

    “Late in 2020, our team introduced the vision for implementing an integrated Live Green residential program focused on the yard and garden,” notes Glenn Harris.

    “CRD is embarking upon a broader, integrated educational approach to align water conservation and watershed health messaging. Using the online BC Landscape Water Calculator as part of this program will enable participation by more homeowners and businesses to design their green spaces to use water wisely. Once we raise awareness of the calculator through outreach and education, use by homeowners will be voluntary.”

    “The ultimate goal of a whole-system approach to a healthy landscape program would be to use less water during dry weather and reduce rainwater runoff during wet weather.

    Live Green in your yard and garden this summer campaign: 

    “Live Green in the Yard and Garden is the umbrella for an integrated campaign featuring the Summer Waterwise Campaign in 2021. The focus will be on efficient irrigation and water conservation measures, as well as what homeowners can do to improve the health of the watershed that they live in.”

    “We will also engage with businesses, especially those who own large properties. We are really talking about working with the owners of MURBs – that is, multi unit residential buildings. But it could also encompass institutional properties. Our objective is to encourage building owners and strata councils to think differently about their site landscaping and how they are using water.”

    “The integrated piece is bringing in all the water conservation messaging and aligning it with biodiversity, pollution prevention and reduction of impervious surfaces. It is all about ensuring there is an absorbent landscape to accept rainfall. If we can achieve that, it delays runoff during wet weather.”

    “We are early in the planning for a Healthy Landscape Program. We hope this would be a component of the Yard and Garden Campaign in 2022. In terms of integrated messaging, the landing page for anything residential will be www.crd.bc.ca/livegreen.”

    Waterwise Summer Campaign 2021

    “CRD saw that our participation in the BC Landscape Water Calculator initiative would benefit both our residential and business water conservation programs,” continues Glenn Harris.

    “When CRD launches Waterwise Summer as part of Live Green in the Yard and Garden, we will promote the BC Landscape Water Calculator as part of the program. The campaign objective is to raise awareness throughout the region about water conservation.”

    “We will present the BC Landscape Water Calculator as a tool that anyone can use to design a water efficient irrigation system and landscape plan.”

    “Looking ahead, the Winter Live Green Campaign will focus on indoor water use. This campaign will bring together the CRD’s regional source control messaging (for liquid waste management) and indoor water conservation messaging. In short, the CRD is doing full-on integration! We are striving for water balance management over the entire year.”

    Fostering Stewardship in the Capital Region:

    “Everything is linked. Live Green in the Yard and Garden is taking the waterwise and watershed messaging, putting the two together, and delivering them under one umbrella.”

    “An aspect of the BC Landscape Water Calculator that CRD staff really like is that it encourages use of native plants. Native plants are great for reducing outdoor water use. Not only do they require less water because they are adapted to this climate, use of native plants also promotes biodiversity and healthy ecosystems across the region.”

    “A list of common native and drought tolerant plants has been populated into the BC Landscape Calculator for the Capital Region so users can plan a water efficient landscape; care was taken to ensure that no invasive plants were included.”

    “If homeowners can be discouraged from using invasive species while being encouraged to use native plants, then this would be Win/Win for water efficiency and the natural ecosystem. The BC Landscape Water Calculator is a new tool for the CRD’s Summer Waterwise Campaign. It has real potential to foster a stewardship ethic on the part of homeowners.”

    What Next?

    “The CRD application of the BC Landscape Water Calculator has opened the door to interlinking it with the Water Balance Express for Homeowners, another of the Partnership’s online tools,” states Ted van der Gulik.

    A Look Ahead: Water Balance Management at the Property Scale!

    “The future is now closer than ever. The reason for optimism is that, prompted by the CRD, we have incorporated dropdowns for the non-irrigated portion of properties, including building footprint. This feature has jump-started the conversation. Interlinking with the Express is an exciting prospect.”

    “Once the tools are interlinked, it would be within the grasp of communities to achieve ‘whole-system, water balance management’ at the property scale. The BC Landscape Water Calculator is a dry-weather tool for water use management; the Water Balance Express is a wet-weather tool for drainage runoff management.”

    “The commonality is soil and how soil functions as an absorbent sponge to hold and slowly release water, thereby maintaining the water balance during wet and dry cycles.”

    “As more local governments join the BC Landscape Water Calculator and Water Balance Express initiatives, the scope of cost-sharing of interlinking and other enhancements will further add to the capabilities and ease-of-use of both tools.”

    About the Partnership for Water Sustainability in BC

    Incorporation of the Partnership for Water Sustainability in British Columbia as a not-for-profit society on November 19, 2010 was a milestone moment. Incorporation signified a bold leap forward. The Partnership evolved from a technical committee in the 1990s, to a “water roundtable” in the first decade of the 2000s, and then to a legal entity. The Partnership has its roots in government – local, provincial, federal.

    The umbrella for Partnership initiatives and programs is the Water Sustainability Action Plan for British Columbia. In turn, the Action Plan is nested within Living Water Smart, British Columbia’s Water Plan. Released in 2008, Living Water Smart was the provincial government’s call to action, and to this day transcends governments.

    Conceptual Framework for Inter-Generational Collaboration

    Technical knowledge alone is not enough to resolve water challenges facing BC. Making things happen in the real world requires an appreciation and understanding of human behaviour, combined with a knowledge of how decisions are made. It takes a career to figure this out.

    The Partnership has a primary goal, to build bridges of understanding and pass the baton from the past to the present and future. To achieve the goal, the Partnership is growing a network in the local government setting. This network embraces collaborative leadership and inter-generational collaboration.

    Application of Experience, Knowledge and Wisdom

    The Partnership believes that when each generation is receptive to accepting the inter-generational baton and embracing the wisdom that goes with it, the decisions of successive generations will benefit from and build upon the experience of those who went before them.

    The Partnership leadership team brings experience, knowledge, and wisdom – a forceful combination to help collaborators reach their vision, mission, and goals for achieving water sustainability. When they are successful, the Partnership is successful.

    The Time Continuum graphic (above) conceptualizes the way of thinking that underpins the inter-generational mission of the Partnership for Water Sustainability.  Influence choices. Capitalize on the REACHABLE and TEACHABLE MOMENTS to influence choices.

     

    TO LEARN MORE, VISIT: https://waterbucket.ca/about-us/

    DOWNLOAD: https://waterbucket.ca/atp/wp-content/uploads/sites/9/2020/11/PWSBC_Story-of-First-Decade_Nov-2020.pdf

     

     

  6. “A Water Conservation Plan is a mandatory document in order to apply for an infrastructure grant. The Ministry requires that local governments include both an assessment of what their successes have been, and a look ahead as to where their plans are going next,” stated Brian Bedford, Executive Director, Ministry of Municipal Affairs & Housing

    Comments Off on “A Water Conservation Plan is a mandatory document in order to apply for an infrastructure grant. The Ministry requires that local governments include both an assessment of what their successes have been, and a look ahead as to where their plans are going next,” stated Brian Bedford, Executive Director, Ministry of Municipal Affairs & Housing

    Note to Reader:

    The edition of Waterbucket eNews published on June 8, 2021 focused on targeting seasonal outdoor water use. This represents the best opportunity to achieve “water use in balance with a changing water cycle”. The spotlight was on the Partnership for Water Sustainability’s program to operationalize use of the BC Landscape Water Calculator, the newest tool in the Partnership toolbox. The Calculator is up and running in three regions: Okanagan, Vancouver Island and Fraser Valley.

    Outdoor Water Use in Balance with a Changing Water Cycle

    Warmer and wetter winters; longer and drier summers. When supply is at a minimum, demand is at a maximum. This is British Columbia’s new reality. Adapting means that we must view water differently. Our seasonal use of water for yard and garden irrigation must be in balance with a changing water cycle,” stated Kim Stephens, Waterbucket eNews Editor and Executive Director, Partnership for Water Sustainability in British Columbia.

    “To support necessary changes in water resource and demand management practice, the Partnership and governments are collaborating to develop resources and implement science-based tools that build understanding and influence choices. One of these tools is the BC Landscape Water Calculator.”

    Provincial Government Expectations Evolve into Contract Requirements for Grants

    “A longstanding goal of the Ministry of the Municipal Affairs and Housing is to find a balance between supporting those local governments who are leaders, while over time raising the bar to encourage the rest,” stated Brian Bedford, Executive Director, Local Government Infrastructure & Finance, Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing.

    “Going back 15 years to the mid-2000s, the Province recognized the need to encourage better water conservation by water users and water purveyors in BC. The question was – what policy levers were available to help make that change, and what would incentivize it? And so, the Ministry found an opportunity to align provincial grant programs with water conservation targets.”

    “The Ministry defined the Water Conservation Condition as the contractual mechanism of choice.”

    “With many Water Conservation Plans now being more than 5 years old, it is time for a refresh. And this is where the Ministry believes the new BC Landscape Water Calculator has a timely fit. The tool is an exciting new evolution. It would allow local governments to further support their Water Conservation Plans with the next piece of education for those who are actually turning on the taps at their homes.”

    To Learn More:

    To read the complete article, download a PDF copy of Living Water Smart in British Columbia: Operationalizing the BC Landscape Water Calculator

     

  7. BRITISH COLUMBIA’S DROUGHT RESPONSE PLAN / 2021 UPDATE: “Expanding the existing drought levels from a four to six-level scale more accurately describes stream flow drought and water scarcity conditions in B.C,” stated Julia Berardinucci, Director of Water Strategies and Conservation, Ministry of Environment and Climate Change (May 2021)

    Comments Off on BRITISH COLUMBIA’S DROUGHT RESPONSE PLAN / 2021 UPDATE: “Expanding the existing drought levels from a four to six-level scale more accurately describes stream flow drought and water scarcity conditions in B.C,” stated Julia Berardinucci, Director of Water Strategies and Conservation, Ministry of Environment and Climate Change (May 2021)

    Note to Reader:

    The British Columbia Drought and Water Scarcity Response Plan focuses primarily on hydrological drought and water scarcity response: the actions taken preceding, during and immediately following a hydrological drought to reduce its impacts. It will assist with ensuring water needs for people and aquatic ecosystems are met in times of drought  and water scarcity. Originally developed in 20o4, it has been updated several times, with 2021 being the most recent.

    Download a copy: British Columbia Drought and Water Scarcity Response Plan

    The following article provides historical context for BC’s plan. The article connects the dots to the 2003 “teachable year” which set in motion decisions, actions and outcomes which continue to ripple through time.

    Floods Affect Some of Us / Droughts Affect All of Us

    “In British Columbia, we measure our droughts in months – with the range being three to six months. Memories are short, and we are easily lulled into complacency. That is why it is timely that the provincial government reminds us of the importance of a Drought Response Plan, even when people live in a rain forest,” stated Kim Stephens, Executive Director, Partnership for Water Sustainability in British Columbia.

    “Consider our recent experience. For five straight years, from 2015 through 2019, British Columbia repeatedly dodged a bullet due to the new reality of longer, drier summers. 2020 was different. It was a wet year. This is why we must not be lulled as we emerge from winter and look ahead to summer.”

    “Once upon a time, a 5-month drought was considered possible but unlikely. And then it happened. A 6-month drought was considered improbable in the rain forest. And then it too happened – in 2015. The impact was so severe that the drought was voted the top news story of 2015.”

    “As surely as day follows night, summer droughts follow winter rains. So why are BC communities consistently water-short when demand is greatest? The answer is a limited capacity to store water. In the big picture of water demand, our water supply lakes and reservoirs are mere puddles.”

    Climate Change is a Variable

    In 2005, at the Water OUT = Water IN workshop co-hosted by the Province and the Partnership, Robert Hicks of the Metro Vancouver Regional District explained that: “Climate change is not a driver; rather, it is a variable. Furthermore, climate change is only one factor to consider when we talk about sustainable infrastructure and sustainable water supply. The real issues are uncertainty and risk, more specifically how we deal with the first and manage the latter.”

    “A constant challenge for planning is not to prevent past events, but instead is to use past experiences to inform and create flexible strategies for the present and the future. Furthermore, this need for flexibility is not restricted to the immediate scope of the problem at hand; but must also consider the broader juggling of evolving local government priorities and service demands.”

    “This leads to the challenge of assessing problems with sufficient complexity to arrive at flexible and resilient solutions, while at the same time not being overwhelmed and paralyzed by over-analysis.”

    To Learn More:

    Download a copy of Living Water Smart in British Columbia: Dealing with Uncertainty and Managing Risk.

    Flashback to the 2004 Penticton Drought Forum

    “In 2003, British Columbia experienced one ‘teachable moment’ after another, highlighted by the Okanagan forest fires that resulted in mass evacuations and widespread destruction in the City of Kelowna and surrounding areas. The impact of this ‘teachable year’ was to set in motion a series of outcomes that have rippled through time,” continues Kim Stephens

    “First came the Water Sustainability Action Plan, released in February 2004. Then came release of British Columbia’s Drought Response Plan in June 2004. This was followed by the Provincial Drought Forum held in July 2004 in Penticton, which was co-hosted by two cabinet ministers – George Abbott, Minister of Sustainable Resource Management (MSRM); and Bill Barisoff, Ministry of Water, Land and Air Protection (WALP).”

    “An action item flowing from the Drought Forum was Achieving Water Balance: A Workshop on Dealing with Uncertainty and Managing Risk, held in Penticton in April 2005. The session purpose was to point the way forward to the next paradigm-shift in water supply management. Designed as a technical transfer session, it shone the spotlight on the Water OUT = Water IN way-of-thinking.”

    To Learn More:

    Read a set of resources posted on the Convening for Action in British Columbia community-of-interest under the dropdown for the 2004 Penticton Drought Forum

    Read a set of resources posted on the Convening for Action in British Columbia community-of-interest under the dropdown for the 2005 Penticton Water OUT = Water IN Workshop

    Getting ready – British Columbia’s drought response in 2021

    Drought severity in B.C. has previously been  communicated through four “drought levels”. Because these categories are broad, it makes it difficult to communicate moderate levels of drought, worsening drought conditions over time, or when regions are experiencing abnormal water scarcity,” stated Julia Berardinucci, Director, Water Strategies and Conservation, Water Protection and Sustainability Branch

    “Desired outcomes in going to a 6-level system include better understanding of current conditions, advance warning of extreme drought, and better alignment with other jurisdictions in North America. A new ‘severely dry’ level would signify a severe state of drought, and a new ‘exceptionally dry’ level would be used to identify drought conditions that are at or near historical lows.”

    Updating of BC’s Drought Levels / Operational Trial

    “In March 2021, the Province released a proposal to update and expand British Columbia’s (B.C.) drought levels. We received 24 individual comments on the proposal and heard support from the majority of respondents to expand the drought levels to a 6-level scale, align with the North American Drought Monitor best practices, and conduct an operational trial period this summer.”

    “Government is now implementing a province-wide operational trial of the proposed drought levels during the spring and summer. An evaluation of the trial will be conducted at the end of this period to determine effectiveness. If the new levels are found beneficial, then they will likely become permanent.”

    To Learn More:

    More information on what government heard and the outcomes of the recent engagement period can be found on the Water Sustainability Act Blog Post #33, in the What We Heard and Outcomes document, and in a short video.

    British Columbia Drought and Water Scarcity Response Plan / Update 2021

    “We are pleased to announce that government is moving forward with a province-wide operational trial of the proposed drought levels during this year’s drought season,” continues George Roman, Manager,  River Forecast Centre and Flood Safety.

    “These updates better align the province with North American best practices and include revisions and feedback from public engagements held earlier this year. An evaluation of the drought levels trial will be conducted at the end of the drought season to determine effectiveness. If the new levels are found beneficial, then they will likely become permanent.”

    “The B.C. Drought Response Plan was updated to reflect the new drought levels and is now available as the British Columbia Drought and Water Scarcity Response Plan. The Plan was also updated to provide clearer messaging, improved definitions, and include new supplemental drought indicators (such as water temperature and air temperature).”

    “This Plan was developed, in part, by drawing from experience with previous droughts, including the summers of 2009 and 2015, both of which saw extremely low flows in many streams, and low groundwater levels in wells across B.C.”

    To Learn More:

    Download a copy of the British Columbia Drought and Water Scarcity Response Plan.

     

     

     

     

  8. LOOMING GROUNDWATER LICENSING DEADLINE IN BRITISH COLUMBIA: “As deadline looms, thousands of BC groundwater users risk losing access to water, but not most water bottling, fracking and mining companies,” wrote resource analyst Ben Parfitt after doing investigative research into who has applied, and who has not (May 2021)

    Comments Off on LOOMING GROUNDWATER LICENSING DEADLINE IN BRITISH COLUMBIA: “As deadline looms, thousands of BC groundwater users risk losing access to water, but not most water bottling, fracking and mining companies,” wrote resource analyst Ben Parfitt after doing investigative research into who has applied, and who has not (May 2021)

    Note to Reader:

    In 2016, water management in BC entered a new era with passage of the Water Sustainability Act. The WSA made it a legal requirement that all non-domestic groundwater users in BC be licensed or otherwise authorized. Until then, only water users drawing from surface sources had been regulated in BC. Now, groundwater users were required to play by the same set of rules. At the time, there were an estimated 20,000 non-domestic groundwater users in BC. They were given three years to apply for licences.

    Research by Ben Parfitt of the BC office of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) shows, however, that only 10 per cent of those users have actually been issued licences by the government. In his article, Ben Parfitt takes a deep dive into the numbers and makes some startling observations.

    Ben Parfitt joined the CCPA staff team as a resource policy analyst in 2005 after years working as an investigative journalist with numerous magazines, and previous to that as a reporter with The Vancouver Sun. He is author and co-author of two books on forestry issues and currently devotes much of his policy research to natural resources, with special attention paid to energy, water, and forest resources and climate change.

    As deadline looms, thousands of BC groundwater users risk losing access to water, but not most water bottling, fracking and mining companies

    “If the deadline passes and thousands of groundwater users fail to apply, there could be big trouble ahead for the government and groundwater users alike. If existing historical users—some of whom can trace their use of specific water wells back generations—fail to apply before the deadline, they will find themselves in the same queue along with new entrants, creating a regulatory nightmare for the government and water users alike,” wrote Ben Parfitt in his article titled Out of water? and posted online in May 2021.

    “Barring a massive surge in applications thousands of groundwater users could risk losing their access to water in less than a year.”

    To Learn More:

    To read the complete story by Ben Parfitt, download a PDF copy of Out of water?

    Groundwater Licensing: Intention versus Reality

    “When the Water Sustainability Act was first introduced, it was one of those rare pieces of legislation that enjoyed widespread if at times qualified support from the governing and opposition parties alike. In introducing the bill, then Liberal environment minister Mary Polak, said the time had come to effectively count and manage every drop of water in the province.”

    “This legislation delivers on government’s commitments to modernize B.C.’s water laws, regulate groundwater use and strengthen provincial water management in light of growing demands for water and changing climate. Water is our most precious resource, and this legislation will help ensure that our supply of fresh, clean water is sustainable to meet our needs today and for generations to come,” Polak said in the Legislature, later adding that the act “recognizes that groundwater and surface water are interconnected and addresses the need to manage them under the same regulatory regime.”

    “The legislation’s key objective to regulate groundwater was widely supported by NDP opposition members as well as the Legislature’s then lone Independent and Green MLAs.”

    “But as then Green MLA Andrew Weaver noted when the proposed legislation moved to second reading, it was one thing to say that groundwater users would be licensed and quite another to make it a reality.”

    “If the deadline passes, and historical water users have not applied, they will be at the back of the queue behind all existing licence holders as well as new applicants,” foreshadows Ben Parfitt.

    To Learn More:

    Download a copy of Living Water Smart in British Columbia: The Emerging Crisis Around Groundwater Regulation Implementation, a call to action released by the Partnership for Water Sustainability in April 2021 to draw attention to the issue.

     

     

  9. FLASHBACK TO 2004: “The vision for the waterbucket.ca website is to provide a resource rich ‘destination location’ for water sustainability in British Columbia,” stated Mike Tanner, Waterbucket Chair, at the Penticton Drought Forum hosted by the Province of British Columbia (July 2004)

    Comments Off on FLASHBACK TO 2004: “The vision for the waterbucket.ca website is to provide a resource rich ‘destination location’ for water sustainability in British Columbia,” stated Mike Tanner, Waterbucket Chair, at the Penticton Drought Forum hosted by the Province of British Columbia (July 2004)

    Note to Reader:

    In 2003, British Columbia experienced one “teachable moment” after another, highlighted by the Okanagan forest fires that resulted in mass evacuations and widespread destruction in the City of Kelowna and surrounding areas. The impact of this “teachable year” was to set in motion a series of outcomes that have rippled through time. First came the Water Sustainability Action Plan, released in February 2004. Then came release of British Columbia’s Drought Response Plan in June 2004. This was followed by the Provincial Drought Forum held in July 2004 in Penticton. 

    Water Sustainability Action Plan

    In July 2004, the Province hosted a Water Use and Conservation Forum in Penticton. This was quickly branded as the “Penticton Drought Forum”. The program was co-hosted by two provincial Ministries and organized by Land and Water British Columbia Inc (LWBC). To download the Agenda, click here.

    The Forum commenced the rollout of the Water Sustainability Action Plan, released in February 2004. The Action Plan comprises six elements that holistically link water management with land use, development and resource production. The Waterbucket Website is an Action Plan element and is being developed by an inter-agency partnership.

    To Learn More:

    To download a copy of the Water Sustainabiltiy Action Plan for British Columbia: Framework for Building Partnerships, click here.

    Waterbucket Website Partnership

    Mike Tanner, representing BC Hydro Power Smart, spoke on behalf of the Waterbucket Website Partnership when he participated in one of the Forum panel sessions. Mike Tanner is Waterbucket Chair. He presented the website vision. The next panel session provided a platform for Gary Paget, representing the Ministrty of Community, Aboriginal and Women’s Services, to announce that his Ministry was giving the Partnership a $25,000 grant towards website development

    Integrated Water Management

    “Integrated water management involves consideration of land, water, air and living organisms – including humans – as well as the interactions among them. Through partnerships, the Water Sustainability Action Plan is promoting the watershed as a fundamental planning unit,” stated Mike Tanner. “The vision for the waterbucket.ca website is to provide a resource rich, highly interactive ‘destination location’ website for information and communication related to water sustainability in the Province of BC.”

    “The waterbucket.ca will connect all six Action Plan Elements to provide the complete story on integrated water management – why, what, where and how – and is the key to the communication strategy for the Action Plan.”

    “The Action Plan recognizes that partnerships hold the key to building broad-based support for improving water management practices, and for integration of water management with land use.”

    To Learn More:

    Download a copy of the Water Sustainability Action Plan for British Columbia 

    Read FLASHBACK TO 2005: “Water Sustainability Action Plan for British Columbia provides a partnership umbrella for on-the-ground initiatives,” stated Kim Stephens, lead person responsible for program delivery, a year after Premier Gordon Campbell approved release of the Action Plan

    Universal Access to Information

    “In November 2003, the Province and the Action Plan partners conducted a working session in Kelowna with a ‘provincial focus group’ to identify the information  needs of stakeholders. The focus group determined that there are at least two barriers to providing universal access to information and to furthering sustainable water resource management,” stated Mike Tanner.

    “The first is related to finding, retrieving and/or sharing appropriate resources useful for promoting learning and change. Although resources exist (information, tools, people, funding), they are located on numerous websites and are not linked to one portal.. There are those who are willing or eager to share resources but there are limited effective vehicles to get these resources to people who might benefit from them.”

    “The second and related barrier is concerned with communication and/or integration across initiatives, regions, sectors and disciplines and linking these in order to further collective understanding, collaboration and the development and implementation of best practice.”

    “Implementation of the waterbucket.ca project will help overcome these perceived barriers. The website will be developed primarily for elected officials, government agencies, water utilities, water suppliers and managers, but will be of interest to all water users – domestic, industrial, commercial and agricultural. The site will include elements that are representative of features of a geophysical community,” concluded Mike Tanner.

     

  10. ADAPTING TO THE NEW REALITY OF LONGER, DRIER SUMMERS: Unlike other regions and countries, the water supply challenge in British Columbia’s mountainous environment is that seasonal water storage potential is limited – such that there is little margin for operational error even though our droughts are measured in months rather than years!

    Comments Off on ADAPTING TO THE NEW REALITY OF LONGER, DRIER SUMMERS: Unlike other regions and countries, the water supply challenge in British Columbia’s mountainous environment is that seasonal water storage potential is limited – such that there is little margin for operational error even though our droughts are measured in months rather than years!

    Note to Reader:

    Waterbucket eNews celebrates the leadership of individuals and organizations who embrace “design with nature” approaches to reconnect people, land, and water in altered landscapes. In this edition, we draw attention to the March 31st 2021 deadline for submitting feedback on the pending enhancement of British Columbia’s Drought Level Scale. This is an important tool to support timely local government actions in adapting to the new reality of longer, drier summers and warmer, wetter winters.

    VISIT THE BRITISH COLUMBIA DROUGHT INFORMATION PORTAL

    EDITOR’S CONTEXT:


    “In British Columbia, we measure our droughts in months – with the range being three to six months. Memories are short, and we are easily lulled into complacency. That is why it is timely that the provincial government reminds us of the importance of a Drought Response Plan, even when people live in a rain forest,” stated Kim Stephens, Waterbucket eNews Editor and Executive Director, Partnership for Water Sustainability in British Columbia.

    “Consider our recent experience. For five straight years, from 2015 through 2019, British Columbia repeatedly dodged a bullet due to the new reality of longer, drier summers. 2020 was different. It was a wet year. This is why we must not be lulled as we emerge from winter and look ahead to summer.”

    “Once upon a time, a 5-month drought was considered possible but unlikely. And then it happened. A 6-month drought was considered improbable in the rain forest. And then it too happened – in 2015. The impact was so severe that the drought was voted the top news story of 2015.”

    “As surely as day follows night, summer droughts follow winter rains. So why are BC communities consistently water-short when demand is greatest? The answer is a limited capacity to store water. In the big picture of water demand, our water supply lakes and reservoirs are mere puddles.”

    EDITOR’S CONTEXT: Contrast with Australia


    “In 2016, I was invited to Australia to deliver the keynote address at a national conference. The organizers asked me to contrast our BC experience with their Australian experience. Keep in mind that Australia had just survived another of its multi-year droughts,” continued Kim Stephens.

    “Why would an Australian audience take me seriously, I wondered, when I contrasted our worst-case 6-month drought with their 7-year drought. And then I realized that all I need do is state the obvious. During a multi-year drought, their water suppliers have the luxury of time to take stock, react in a measured way, and adapt. In the BC situation, however, every week matters.”

    “When the “Water OUT versus Water IN” safety factor is small – a typical water supply situation in BC – there is no margin for error when making operational decisions. Once storage reservoirs are empty, and incoming streams are dry, there is no more water! In British Columbia, close calls have been recurring since the extreme drought of 1987.”

    If you are curious about what “Water OUT = Water IN” means, visit:
    https://waterbucket.ca/cfa/category/on_the_ground_changes-in-british-columbia/2005_penticton_water_in__water_out_workshop_british_columbia_on_the_ground_changes/

     

    Getting ready – British Columbia’s drought response in 2021

    Drought severity in B.C. is currently communicated through four “drought levels”. Because these categories are broad, it makes it difficult to communicate moderate levels of drought, worsening drought conditions over time, or when regions are experiencing abnormal water scarcity,” stated Julia Berardinucci, Director, Water Strategies and Conservation, Water Protection and Sustainability Branch

    “Desired outcomes in going to a 6-level system include better understanding of current conditions, advance warning of extreme drought, and better alignment with other jurisdictions in North America. The Province intends to run a trial of the enhanced drought levels over summer 2021.”

    “A new ‘severely dry’ level would signify a severe state of drought, and a new ‘exceptionally dry’ level would be used to identify drought conditions that are at or near historical lows.”


    TO PROVIDE FEEDBACK: Visit the Water Sustainability Act Engagement Blog site (Blog #32). on or before March 31st, 2021. Also, submit questions by email to livingwatersmart@gov.bc.ca.

     

    To learn more about BC’s Drought Level Scale, watch the video

     

    BC’s Proposed Six Drought Levels

     

    How to Adapt to a Changing Climate in British Columbia

    To learn more about the context for adaptation, watch the video:

    About the Partnership for Water Sustainability

    Incorporation of the Partnership for Water Sustainability in British Columbia as a not-for-profit society on November 19, 2010 was a milestone moment. Incorporation signified a bold leap forward. Two decades earlier, a group of like-minded and passionate individuals, including representatives of three levels of government, came together as a technical committee. Over time, this “water roundtable” evolved into The Partnership.

    The umbrella for Partnership initiatives and programs is the Water Sustainability Action Plan for British Columbia. In turn, the Action Plan is nested within Living Water Smart, British Columbia’s Water Plan. Released in 2008, Living Water Smart was the provincial government’s call to action, and to this day transcends governments.

    The Partnership’s guiding philosophy is to help others be successful. When they are successful, we are successful. The Partnership is led by a team of mission-focused volunteers, elders and collaborators. These individuals bring experience, knowledge and wisdom to the Partnership roundtable. This enhances the effectiveness of the Partnership as “the hub for a convening for action network”. Although many on the Partnership leadership team have retired from their day jobs, the water-centric mission continues.

    TO LEARN MORE, VISIT: https://waterbucket.ca/about-us/

    DOWNLOAD: https://waterbucket.ca/atp/wp-content/uploads/sites/9/2020/11/PWSBC_Story-of-First-Decade_Nov-2020.pdf