"Water-centric planning means planning with a view to water – whether for a single site or the entire province. At the core of the approach is a water balance way-of-thinking and acting. The underpinning premise is that resource, land use and community design decisions will be made with an eye towards their potential impact on the watershed," explains Kim Stephens.
Published in March 2002 by the Greater Vancouver Regional District, the "Watershed / Landscape-Based Approach to Community Planning" was developed by an interdisciplinary working group and is the genesis of "water-centric planning".
“There’s no question that land development has an impact on our local ecology. One of the most visible and loved ecological features of a community is its water – its streams and rivers, lakes and wetlands. In working with the conservation sector, we decided to focus on these ecosystems to highlight their value and show how they are changing as our community grows over time," said Nancy Hofer.
"Water use reporting is more than simply meeting regulations. The more often we report, the more accurate our data is, and the more responsive we can be to shortages. The vision of the Okanagan Basin Water Board (OBWB) is to have a fully-integrated water system, meeting the needs of residents and agriculture while supporting wildlife and natural areas," states Anna Warwick Sears
Water use reporting software used in the Okanagan would allow information on major groundwater and surface water extractions to be gathered efficiently from all over B.C. “The water utilities have been very supportive. This approach will streamline fee payments and give much greater value to communities at very little additional cost," stated Don Dobson.
“The proposed new commission creates the necessary link between good water-use data and water management, a significant improvement to the current process of managing BC’s precious water resource,” stated Nelson Jatel. “The business case proposes a new commission that would manage water and build on the made-in-BC Water Use Reporting software developed in the Okanagan and piloted in the Okanagan.”
“Building on previous senior and local government investments to develop the Water Use Reporting Centre in the Okanagan, we are in a unique situation to develop a new model that supports sustainable water management, economic development and provides a world-class system for British Columbia,” stated Chair Doug Findlater.
“The provision for development of watershed-based Water Sustainability Plans will enhance food security by securing water for future development of agricultural lands; ensure critical environmental flows for survival of fish and other aquatic habitat; promote a water balance way-of-thinking; and establish a water reporting system so that water is used beneficially," states Ted van der Gulik.
“The act signals a fresh approach based more on stewardship and protection than simply on rules for resource extraction. All of us must become architects of our sustainable water future by ensuring that our leaders keep their promises and the words they use have real meaning and follow-through," writes Oliver Brandes.
The Water Sustainability Act replaces the 105-year Water Act. After the act was passed, Environment Minister Mary Polak described it as a historic achievement for British Columbia. “Those were different times with different demands on our water resource. B.C.’s entire population was only 350,000. Today, our provincial population is 4.6 million," she added.
Given our growing population, changing climate and expanding development, we must take concrete steps to ensure our supply of clean fresh water is sustainable. Our generation has a duty and an obligation to be water stewards today, and for the generations that follow,” stated Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations Steve Thomson.
“Over the past four years government has engaged widely with British Columbians. We have used this input to create legislation that provides greater certainty for water users, improves environmental protection, and better responds to local and regional needs. The Water Sustainability Act recognizes that groundwater and surface water are interconnected and addresses the need to manage them together," stated Mary Polak.