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



Note to Reader:

The more things change, the more it seems that they stay the same. When British Columbia experienced province-wide drought conditions in 2009, this provided an opportunity to reflect on insights gained and/or lessons learned from previous droughts.

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


Flashback to 1992 and an article written by Ted van der Gulik, Tom Heath and Kim Stephens

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

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

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


Link to downloadable document:

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

The authors as they looked in 1992

1992 water conservation magazine article - the authors (360p)


How the Water Conservation Committee has evolved over time

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

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

At the end of 2010, the committee metamorphosed into the Partnership for Water Sustainability in British Columbia, an autononous society 


APEGBC article - september 2002 - cover (475p)

Originally posted August 2009
Updated July 2011