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    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)


    “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 BC’s first wake up call. The drought was unprecedented in living memory. But it was 2003 that truly was what we call ‘the teachable year.’ This really got the attention of British Columbians that the climate was indeed changing. 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,” stated Kim Stephens.

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    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


    “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. 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,” stated Ted van der Gulik.

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    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)


    “Drought severity in B.C. has previously been communicated through four ‘drought levels’. These categories are broad. 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,” stated Julia Berardinucci.

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    FLASHBACK T0 2005: “People have no difficulty reconciling personal long-term and short-term decisions, yet are challenged when it comes to reconciling short-term political versus long-term community planning decisions,” stated Robert Hicks, Metro Vancouver Senior Engineer, at the Penticton Workshop that launched the Convening for Action in British Columbia initiative


    “The solutions to short-term risks are long-term: it is a continuum. In my presentation I explained why commitment to the long-term is so important. And I elaborated on the differences in approaches between short-term and long-term visions, and why we need to understand these differences. A key message revolved around the importance of lingo in communicating with decision-makers, and how messages can easily be lost in translation when language is not used effectively,” stated Robert Hicks.

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    PLANNING FOR WATER RESILIENCY IN BRITISH COLUMBIA: “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,” states Brian Bedford, A/Executive Director, Ministry of Municipal Affairs & Housing


    “A longstanding goal of the Ministry of 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. With many Water Conservation Plans being more than 5 years old, it is time for a refresh. And this is where we believe 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,” stated Brian Bedford.

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    LIVING WATER SMART IN BRITISH COLUMBIA: Unveiled in 2009, BC’s online Water Conservation Calculator decision support tool is a foundation piece for a long-term provincial strategy that aligned eligibility for infrastructure grant programs with Living Water Smart targets for improving water use efficiency and achieving water supply resiliency province-wide through Council or Board endorsed Water Conservation Plans


    “Smaller communities often cannot allocate resources to traditional infrastructure projects or cannot budget for the development of water conservation and efficiency plans by service providers. The purpose of the Water Conservation Calculator is to illustrate how specific conservation measures yield both fiscal and physical water consumption savings. Water purveyors can use the tool to assist in presenting their conservation case to council and other decision makers,” stated Lisa Wright, Ministry of Community & Rural Development.

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    THE POTENTIAL FOR RAINWATER HARVESTING: “Every small effort by Canadians in reusing rainwater at home can help the community at large fight against climate change,” stated Donald Kim in a guest article for Waterbucket News


    “Rainwater harvesting has become a rapidly trending topic in the global discourse of climate change in 2019. How can we implement a rainwater harvesting system at home in contemporary Canadian society? Let’s take a look at what rainwater harvesting is and how we can implement strategies within the community to help make a difference in response to climate change today,” wrote Donald Kim.

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    ALBERTA & SASKATCHEWAN CITIES TEND TO HAVE THE MOST EXPENSIVE WATER IN CANADA: “Somewhat lost in the water-pricing discussion are the challenges that higher water rates present for low-income households,” wrote Professor Jim Warren, University of Regina


    “Over the past few decades, the prices charged by municipalities for residential water and wastewater services in many Canadian cities have increased much faster than increases in the rate of inflation. The cost of municipal water and wastewater services in 93 Canadian cities shows that residential water and wastewater utility charges in 22 of those cities are exceeding international affordability benchmarks for low-income households. More than 130,000 low-income households in these 22 cities are already paying more for water than they can afford,” wrote Jim Warren.

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    BRITISH COLUMBIA’S NEW CLIMATE REALITY: “While summer drought is very much the new normal for the Cowichan Valley, the warm temperatures and lack of rain we’ve had year-to-date is of significant concern,” said Kate Miller, Manager of Environmental Services, Cowichan Valley Regional District


    Persistent drought conditions mean that Cowichan Valley residents asked to reduce water use by up to 30 percent. The Cowichan Valley Regional District had been at Drought Level 1 since May 2019, which calls for a 10 percent voluntary reduction in water use. But Kate Miller said that further analysis by her office in early June had concluded the region was really at Level 2 and fast approaching Level 3. “We can see the low lake and river levels, but data from provincial monitoring wells tells us the drought is also affecting groundwater aquifers,” she said.

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    BRITISH COLUMBIA’S NEW CLIMATE REALITY: “Brace for another drought crisis in 2019,” stated Kim Stephens, Executive Director of the Partnership for Water Sustainability, when he reflected on crossing an invisible threshold to a new climate regime (June 2019)


    “The new reality in BC is drought and flooding. It is either famine or feast. The water balance is out of balance,” says Kim Stephens. “The summer dry season has extended on both ends. Communities can no longer count on a predictable snowpack and reliable rain to maintain a healthy water balance in watersheds. This is putting water supply systems and ecosystems under extreme stress. 2015 was the first year of this new reality. By 2018, there was little doubt that the extent of drought and forest fires in the Northern Hemisphere may define a turning point in human history.”

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