Wednesday, June 27, 2012

A decade later, British Columbia’s Stormwater Planning Guidebook stands the test of time

In 2002, looking at rainfall differently initiated a paradigm-shift to protect stream health
Released in June 2002, StormwaterPlanning: A Guidebook for British Columbia was a catalyst for action to ‘design with nature’ to create liveable communities and protect stream health. Also, it set the stage for defining water sustainability as an outcome of green infrastructure policies and practices.

“The Guidebook is standing the test of time because the foundation material is science-based,” states Peter Law, Chair of the Guidebook Steering Committee (2000-2002). Formerly with the Ministry of Environment, Peter Law is a founding Director of the Partnership for Water Sustainability in British Columbia. “A decade ago, looking at rainfall differently led the Province to develop the Guidebook and initiate a paradigm-shift in the way rainwater is managed. The Guidebook formalized the Water Balance Methodology in order to establish performance targets. The Guidebook did not go on the shelf. Ten years later, we are still here, and we are still moving the initiative forward. We are providing tools and training to protect stream health.”

“A key goal is to improve the technical basis for local government decisions. Hence, the Partnership is working with local government planning and engineering staff to help them “use” the tools, rather than wait for “expert” reports. We strive to make these materials easy to use in answering some basic land use questions concerning how water influences the site and watershed.”

“At the core of the Guidebook is a ‘learn by doing’ philosophy. The Water Balance Methodology is dynamic; and it is being enhanced over time to incorporate fresh insights resulting from science-based understanding,” concludes Peter Law.

E-Blast #2012-25
June 26, 2012

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

‘Water Balance Model Express for Landowners’ previewed at workshop hosted by Regional District of Nanaimo

Six local governments will be initial demonstration applications
“An increasing building footprint on properties is short-circuiting the WATER BALANCE. This creates risks for local government, both financial and environmental. If we want to make change, then we have to find a way to influence landowners to look at their properties differently,” stated Richard Boase (District of North Vancouver) at a training workshop for local governments.

“HOW the members of the Water Balance Model Partnership plan on doing this is through the Water Balance Model Express for Landowners. As part of the approval process, this tool will allow a landowner to look at what is on the property now; and quantify the kind of footprint change they intend to make. Then they will be able to examine the water impacts associated with that change in footprint; and determine how they can make different decisions about how to manage that change.”

“Three watershed-specific performance targets that link rainfall to stream health are pre-set by local government. When the landowner clicks on a pop-up location map, much like for garbage collection schedules, it pre-sets the target values by zone. The Express guides the landowner through an iterative PASS/FAIL process to select and test options and choices.”

“Stream health depends on ALL properties in a watershed. If everyone reduces their ‘water footprint’, and if we ensure the integrity of groundwater flow, we can then protect stream health,” concluded Richard Boase.

TO LEARN MORE: Six Metro Vancouver and Vancouver Island local governments will be the initial demonstration applications when the Express is rolled out later in 2012. To read the complete story about the preview presentation by Richard Boase, click here. He is Co-Chair of the Water Balance Model Partnership.

Anyone can register as a Water Balance Model TRIAL USER. Just go to to set up an account.

E-Blast #2012-24
June 19, 2012

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Sustainable Rainwater Management in British Columbia: Mimic the Water Balance and Protect Stream Health!

Metro Vancouver elected representatives learn about  inter-regional collaboration
Launched by an inter-governmental partnership in 2003, the web-based Water Balance Model for British Columbia quantifies the effectiveness of green infrastructure in accomplishing two inter-connected goals: reduce a community’s ‘water footprint’; and protect stream health. In January 2012, Metro Vancouver contributed $50,000 to fund further enhancement of the WBM.

“When Kim Stephens met with the Metro Vancouver Utilities Committee to provide us with a progress report on the Water Balance Model and inter-regional collaboration, we were impressed that our $50,000 grant has leveraged $250,000 in cash and in-kind contributions,” states City of North Vancouver Mayor Darrell Mussatto, Chair of the Committee. His municipality was a founding member of the Water Balance Model Partnership in 2002, and is a charter member of the Partnership for Water Sustainability in BC.

“The Committee learned that the Water Balance Model is a tool available to Metro Vancouver’s members so that they will be able to more effectively and efficiently fulfil their rainwater and stormwater management actions under our region’s IntegratedLiquid Waste and Resource Management Plan.”

“There is no formal mechanism to enable inter-regional collaboration. We also learned that the Partnership is trying to fill this gap by bringing together local governments around the Georgia Basin to advance a consistent approach to rainwater management and green infrastructure practices. Alignment should help everyone reduce risk, improve watershed health and comply with regulatory requirements. The Committee is looking forward to a further update this fall,” concludes Mayor Mussatto.

Metro Vancouver elected representatives learn about the Water Balance Model and Inter-Regional Collaboration

Water Balance Model Partnership leverages Metro Vancouver grant
The Water Balance Model for British Columbia is a scenario comparison tool. It can help local governments create a future watershed vision by informing their decisions about the impacts, or not, of their ‘water footprint’ on watershed health. The majority of Metro Vancouver municipalities are Water Balance Model Partners.

In September 2011, Kim Stephens (Executive Director of the Partnership for Water Sustainability) met with Metro Vancouver's Waste Management Committee and presented the vision for rebuilding the Water Balance Model on a Linux platform. Five weeks later in October 2011, the Metro Vancouver Board amended its 2012 Budget to incorporate a line item for the Water Balance Model.

“Metro Vancouver contributed $50,000 to fund further enhancement of the Water Balance Model because widespread use of this decision  tool will help Metro Vancouver and members fulfil our regulatory commitments, in particular those related to integrated rainwater management,” stated Port Coquitlam Mayor Greg Moore, Chair of the Metro Vancouver Board, when he announced the grant.

In May 2012, Kim Stephens met with the successor Utilities Committee to describe how the Partnership has leveraged the $50,000 grant. He also introduced Metro Vancouver elected representatives to the benefits of an Inter-Regional Educational Initative for 'Rainwater Management in a Watershed Sustainability Context' that the Partnership has launched on Vancouver Island.

"The initiative creates opportunities for knowledge sharing and transfer on both sides of the Georgia Basin so that everyone can go farther, more efficiently and effectively," stated Kim Stephens. "The web-based Water Balance Model is a unique, scenario comparison tool; and is the foundation block for the Inter-Regional Education Initiative."

"Collaboration among Vancouver Island local governments, Metro Vancouver and its member municipalities has grown steadily since 2007. Looking ahead, the Partnership's ultimate objective is to formalize Metro Vancouver and member participation in the inter-regional initiative."

"The Inter-Regional Education Initiative can help fulfil specific Metro Vancouver actions in the Integrated Liquid Waste and Resource Management Plan regarding performance standards, codes of practice, certification and guidelines for on-site rainwater management - that is, green infrastructure. Through collaboration, everyone can achieve more with the same resources," concluded Kim Stephens.

To download the briefing document that provided the basis for a delegation request, click on May 2012 Report to Metro Vancouver Utilities Committee.

To download the presentation slides that provided the backdrop for the conversation with the committee, click here.

To read the article about the September 2011 presentation by Kim Stephens, click on Vision for ‘Water Balance Model Express’ introduced to Elected Representatives in Metro Vancouver Region

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Do You Wonder How Lower Mainland Local Government Leaders are Implementing Green Infrastructure to Protect Watershed Health?

Reduce Risk & Comply with Regulatory Requirements
On June 19-20, the Capital Regional District is hosting a 2-day course that supports the region’s Integrated Watershed Management Implementation Strategy. The course comprises eight modules; and will guide participants through the stages and steps in developing a plan that is balanced, truly integrated and financially sustainable. Carrie Baron, City of Surrey Drainage and Environment Manager, is a member of the teaching team. To learn more, click here

The focus is on HOW to develop outcome-oriented Watershed Blueprints and introduce innovation and efficiency into Integrated Stormwater Management Plans (ISMPs). The course is designed to help local governments reduce risk (financial and environmental), improve watershed health, and comply with regulatory requirements.

Achieve More at Less Cost
The City of Surrey has extensive experience with ISMP development and implementation. Now in its fifth decade of continuous implementation experience, the City continues to evolve and adapt a watershed–based approach that incorporates lessons learned in getting green infrastructure built right. “The 2-day course will benefit all those who are involved in land use planning, land development and municipal infrastructure. From my Lower Mainland perspective, the course is a great chance to collaborate with and learn from champions in Vancouver Island local governments,” states Carrie Baron, City of Surrey Drainage and Environment Manager. The course comprises eight modules. Carrie is providing content for four modules.

“We will provide examples that illustrate how sharing and learning from each other allows municipalities to achieve more with less; and we will demonstrate how to apply the right tools. Integration is the KEY MESSAGE – integration with the ecosystem, recreation, land use and community groups. Use effective green infrastructure, lighten the ‘water footprint’, and protect stream health.”

“Creating good plans come from integrating good concepts from a variety of sources into the needs of the watershed,” concludes Carrie Baron. 

TO LEARN MORE about the City's experience over the years, scroll down to read these stories: 

Getting Green Infrastructure Built Right in the City of Surrey: Moving Beyond Pilot Projects  

From Pilot Projects to a Watershed Objectives Approach in the City of Surrey

Getting Green Infrastructure Built Right in the City of Surrey: Moving Beyond Pilot Projects


City Hosted 2009 Metro Vancouver Water Balance Model Forum
Hosted by the City of Surrey in March 2009, the program for the Metro Vancouver Water Balance Model Forum was built around the HOW question as it pertains to green infrastructure:
  • HOW will the City of Surrey get it built right; 
  • HOW will a consistent regional approach be achieved in Metro Vancouver?
The City of Surrey has extensive experience with development and implementation of Master Drainage Plans (MDP) and Integrated Stormwater Management Plans (ISMP). Now in its fifth decade of continuous implementation experience, the City continues to evolve and adapt a watershed–based approach that incorporates lessons learned in getting green infrastructure built right.

Shared Responsibility
The City of Surrey hosted the Water Balance Model Forum because we wanted to start a dialogue between policy-makers and project implementers,” states Vincent Lalonde, the City’s General Manager, Engineering. “We approached the program design from a shared responsibility perspective; we explored how policy and legal tools can help developers, regulators and designers collaborate to ensure responsible outcomes.”

“We wanted the policy people to have an appreciation for what is involved in constructing green infrastructure; and we wanted the implementers to understand what the provincial, regional and local goals are....and what we are trying to achieve in Surrey through the use of policy, approved standards and legal tools."

“Once we know what we want our watersheds and neighbourhoods to look like, the next step is to decide what the tools are that will get us there. All of us ….whether we are regulators, developers or designers ….need to understand and care about the goal if we are to create the future that we all want,” concludes Vincent Lalonde.

The 2009 Forum was co-sponsored by the Water Balance Model Partnership and the Green Infrastructure Partnership, with a goal of moving beyond pilot projects to a watershed-based approach to achieving performance targets for rainwater management and green infrastructure.

The Forum Audience 
"The audience comprised a mix of Surrey staff from different departments, developers and designers who do work in Surrey, representatives from a large number of Metro Vancouver municipalities, and provincial regulators. At the end of the day, this learning event had achieved our stated objective of starting a dialogue between policy-makers and project implementers," reports Kim Stephens, Forum team leader and now Executive Director for the Partnership for Water Sustainability in British Columbia.
The Forum was a Success
"The Forum was a success," adds Remi Dubé, formerly Drainage Planning Manager and now Manager of Development Services with the City of Surrey, and the individual responsible for developing the morning program. "We have been getting some pretty good feedback from many of the people who attended the workshop (specifically developers and consultants).  It’s leading into more direct communication with certain developers who are looking at different approaches ... they seemed encouraged with the dialogue that the forum appeared to promote."

To Learn More: Leading up to the Forum, a series of preview stories were published on Water Bucket. They progressively described the elements of the Forum program in order to establish participant expectations. Briefly:
To download a consolidated copy of the entire set of six documents in the series, click on The Story of the 2009 Water Balance Model Forum (Hosted by the City of Surrey)

From Pilot Projects to a Watershed Objectives Approach in the City of Surrey

Green Infrastructure Innovation
The following story about innovation and leadership in the City of Surrey is extracted from Chapter 7 of Beyond the Guidebook 2010, released in June 2010. This water-centric guidance document tells the stories of how change is being implemented on the ground in BC. To download a copy, click on Beyond the Guidebook 2010: Implementing a New Culture for Urban Watershed Protection and Restoration in British Columbia

When the City of Surrey hosted the second event in the 2006 Showcasing Green Infrastructure Innovation Series, historical context was provided by Paul Ham, Surrey’s General Manager, Engineering. Paul Ham was also Chair of the Green Infrastructure Partnership from 2005-2008. He retired from the City in 2008.

 “The East Clayton Neighbourhood Concept Plan provided the first large-scale opportunity to ‘test’ a new approach advocated by Patrick Condon and others. This new approach, which is sometimes characterized as ‘the future is the past’, embodied a design with nature way-of-thinking about drainage,” stated Paul Ham.

The 250-hectare neighbourhood of East Clayton in Surrey was designated as ‘urban’ in 1996, setting the stage for an unprecedented new neighbourhood plan to increase residential density, promote social cohesion and maximize affordability and walkability. Different housing zones were created, each with guidelines on lot configurations, including widths and setbacks, allowing developers to choose the housing mix.

 Integration of Sustainability Objectives
“Looking back, it is sometimes hard to believe that almost a decade has passed since the City initiated the East Clayton plan. With the passage of time, we tend to take the early innovation for granted. From my perspective, one aspect which really stands out about the East Clayton plan is the integration of sustainability objectives.”

In providing context for City of Surrey actions over time, Ham highlighted three provincial initiatives that had an early influence on City of Surrey thinking. These were the UniverCity Sustainable Community on Burnaby Mountain, the Provincial Guidebook, and the experience of the City of Chilliwack when it developed its Manual for Surface Water Management as a feedback loop for Guidebook development.

Building on the East Clayton Success
“The early results from East Clayton combined with the on-the-ground experience of Chilliwack gave Surrey the confidence to implement new green infrastructure objectives in two plans – the Campbell Heights Economic Development Plan (1999-2000), and the Highway 99 Corridor Land Use Plan (2002). In fact, Council made the use of green infrastructure practices a condition of both plans.”

“Investigation of opportunities for the application of green infrastructure objectives is now expected in all the City’s land use plans. Furthermore, ISMPs will provide the basis for implementing green infrastructure objectives to support a design with nature approach on a watershed scale”, concluded Paul Ham.

To Learn More: To read the complete story, click on City of Surrey - "From Pilot Projects to a Watershed Objectives Approach"

"Course on Developing Effective Watershed Blueprints" Showcases Tools and Case Study Experience to Help Restore Watershed Health

 Protect Interflow
On June 19-20, the Capital Regional District is hosting a 2-day course that supports the region’s Integrated Watershed Management Implementation Strategy. The course comprises eight modules; and will guide participants through the stages and steps in developing a plan that is balanced, truly integrated and financially sustainable. Jim Dumont, Engineering Applications Authority for the Water Balance Model Partnership, is a member of the teaching team. To learn more, click here.

The Science Behind Integrated Rainwater Management
“Canada's Department of Fisheries and Oceans has identified the interflow system as an incredibly important and yet fragile component of a watershed. Interflow is critical for maintaining stream health and the fishery resource. The course will teach how to protect and restore interflow by installing a simple 'interflow replicator' on development sites. The function is to replenish low flows to the stream," states Jim Dumont.

“Two primers provide the technical foundation for the course curriculum. The Hydrology Primer and the Watershed Modeling Primer cover the basics and are suitable for engineers and non-engineers. The primers will help everyone make informed decisions about how to apply a science-based understanding to restore watershed function."

"Interflow is a part of nearly every watershed; however, I know there will always be an exception. The exception occurs where the watershed is underlain by coarse grained soils. Everywhere else there is a thin layer of bio-chemically altered material called, top soil, underlain by a finer silty or clay subsoils," continues Jim Dumont.

"It is in these instances that the water accumulates and flows as interflow through the topsoil  as it follows the path of least resistance; through the topsoil rather than through the underlying tighter soils. This explains why surface flows from pervious surfaces are often observed to be nil and a catchment contribution to a stream is then ignored."

"This situation arises simply as a result of the modelling process for design storms or the rational method that lumps any water that infiltrates through the surface as a 'loss'. All the while it may well be moving sideways down slope to the stream through shallow surficial soils. Unseen and hence ignored because it has been deemed to be unimportant."

"The question is whether is it important enough to become a regulatory issue. I am not aware of this being an item that regulators in other jurisdictions acknowledge or review. I believe the old adage can be reworded to include: 'see not', regulate not'," concludes Jim Dumont.

To Learn More:
"It is now time to take another leap forward, albeit by moving sideways, and recognize near surface lateral water flow, otherwise known as interflow,” states Alan Jonsson, Habitat Engineer with Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

“Interflow is often the dominant drainage path in glaciated landscapes of British Columbia.  Even undeveloped sites that are founded on till and bedrock rarely show overland flow because of interflow pathways. The challenge for engineers is to determine the influence of interflow on a site and then design and implement techniques that replace or restore it.”

To read the complete story posted on the website, click on "Understand How Water Reaches the Stream and Design for Interflow", urges Department of Fisheries and Oceans.

Drainage Infrastructure Screening Tool saves money, and makes it easy to assess implications of a changing climate!

Water  Balance Model Partnership Unveils Decision Support Tool at Vancouver Island "Sharing & Learning" Events 
Thanks to funding provided by the federal government through the Regional Adaptation Collaboratives Program, the Water Balance Model Partnership has developed a Drainage Infrastructure Screening Tool. The tool meets the test of helping local governments “achieve more with less”.

“Many drainage conveyance systems operate without serious problems for many years. Yet many engineering studies recommend plans for pipe replacement and upsizing that would cost tens of millions of dollars, money that local governments do not have,” observes Jim Dumont, Engineering Applications Authority for the Water Balance Model Partnership.

“Embedded in the tool is a Level-of-Service methodology. This provides the means to quickly and efficiently identify weak links in a drainage system. The methodology evaluates the impacts of a changing climate, as well as changes in land development density. City of Surrey and District of North Vancouver case study experience has proven out the methodology.”

“Now, local governments can focus on what is most important AND achieve more at less cost. The Screening Tool is not intended to replace detailed analysis during the design process; rather, it provides a quick and inexpensive look into the drainage system performance to highlight any problem areas. Thus it will provide inexpensive input into establishing priorities for capital budgets.”

TO LEARN MORE: This month, Jim Dumont will be demonstrating the Drainage Infrastructure Screening Tool at “sharing and learning” events hosted by the Regional District of Nanaimo and Capital Regional District on June 12 and June 19-20, respectively. Also, click on Drainage Infrastructure Screening Tool is now LIVE!

These events are part of the Vancouver Island Inter-Regional Education Initiative. Four regional districts and municipal members are aligning efforts to help everyone go farther, more efficiently and effectively.

E-Blast #2012-23
June 5, 2012

Monday, June 4, 2012

POLIS Project on Ecological Governance hosts "Navigating Our Water Future: Lessons Learned from Europe and Australia"

 A Public Lecture and Discussion at the University of Victoria
For many years, Australia and Europe have faced serious problems with the management and governance of their water resources—from the effects of severe drought, to the challenges of jurisdictional fragmentation, unclear responsibilities, and disconnected governance. These challenges offer a glimpse into Canada’s water future. 

"Australians and Europeans are tackling these problems with a variety of innovative approaches that can offer Canadians important direction as we contemplate our challenges ahead. On June 18, internationally renowned water experts Professor Lee Godden (University of Melbourne) and Professor Tim O’Riordon (University of East Anglia) will be delivering a public lecture at the University of Victoria," announces Oliver M. Brandes of the University of Victoria’s POLIS Project on Ecological Governance. 

"The discussion will focus on water as the main challenge facing Canada in the 21st century, drawing on trends, issues, and successful approaches that have been taken in both Australia and Europe. Professors Godden and O’Riordan will offer lessons from their home regions. Their talks will be followed by a focused discussion with Professor Rob de Loë (Research Chair Water Policy and Governance, University of Waterloo) on how these lessons can be applied in the Canadian context."

This event is being hosted by the POLIS Project on Ecological Governance in partnership with the British Columbia Branch of the Canadian Water Resources Association (BC-CWRA), BC Water & Waste Association, Partnership for Water Sustainability in BC, University of Victoria's Environmental Law Centre, and Water Canada Magazine. Oliver Brandes is the lecture moderator. To download a copy of a flyer that provides registration and venue details, click here.

About the Speakers
Professor Lee Godden researches and teaches within the Melbourne Law School. She is the Director of the Centre for Resources, Energy and Environmental Law within the Law School. The impact of her work extends beyond Australia with comparative research on environmental law and sustainability, property law and resource trading regimes, water law resources and Indigenous land rights issues, in countries as diverse as Canada, New Zealand, UK, South Africa, and the Pacific. 

Tim O'Rioran is a Professor Emeritus. Before retiring in July 2005, he was Professor of Environmental Sciences at the University of East Anglia. He has edited a large number of books on the institutional aspects of global environmental change policy and practice, and led two international research projects on the transition to sustainability in the European Union (1995-1999). His current research interests are focused on global-local relations and their implications for the transition to sustainability in Europe.