DOWNLOAD A COPY OF: “Living Water Smart in British Columbia: A Once-in-a-Decade Opportunity to Strengthen the Foundation for Water Law” – released by the Partnership for Water Sustainability in April 2022


Waterbucket eNews celebrates the leadership of individuals and organizations who are guided by the vision for Living Water Smart in British Columbia to build greener communities and adapt to a changing climate; and embrace “design with nature” approaches to reconnect people, land, fish, and water in altered landscapes. 

In this article about challenges and gaps in the Water Sustainability Act, retired senior civil servants Donna Forsyth and Mike Wei explain what “vesting of water” means and why everyone in British Columbia should care. The article was published on April 12, 2022.


Why should we care whether use of water is vested or not?

“When Donna Forsyth and Mike Wei said they wished to contribute an article about vested versus unvested water, my initial reaction was what does that mean and why should I care? More importantly, why would our readers care, I added,” stated Kim Stephens, Waterbucket eNews Editor and Executive Director.

“Vesting is the legal concept that gives the province the ‘ownership’ of water that gives them the authority to manage its diversion and use. Water that has not reached a ‘stream’ or gone into the ground is ‘unvested’.”

“As retired senior civil servants, Donna Forsyth and Mike Wei bring an informed perspective to their quest to strengthen the foundation for BC water law. They draw on decades of experience to pull threads of understanding from the past through to the present. They have identified a concern about whether a jurisdictional gap in the Water Sustainability Act has a domino effect.”

Timing is Everything

“The window of opportunity for them to draw attention to the jurisdictional gap is the current engagement process for the Watershed Security Strategy. Timing is everything because one only gets one chance per decade. This is the reason they are so passionate about the need for government to deal with lingering issues before they morph into unintended consequences.”

“It took multiple conversations for Donna and Mike to explain vesting of water in terms that I could begin to understand. In the end, it came down to one statement that intuitively made sense to me, unvested water is unregulated in all aspects and that creates operational risks. Because I am a water resources engineer by training and experience, risk management is a theme that resonates with me.”

“Mike and Donna then explained that government can include exemptions once water is vested. This is what provides operational flexibility. The real issue, they emphasized, centres on what government cannot do when the water use involves unvested water.”


To read the complete story published on April 12th 2022, download a PDF copy of Living Water Smart in British Columbia: A Once-in-a-Decade Opportunity to Strengthen the Foundation for Water Law.