BC's Water Act Modernization will help connect the dots to stream health and liveable communities
Implementing Living Water Smart
Living Water Smart, BC's Water Plan sets the direction for changes to use of water and development of land in British Columbia. The desired outcome is water sustainability – both in terms of how water is used and how water runs off the land (i.e. rainwater management).
Water Act Modernization
One-third of the 45 actions in Living Water Smart either require legislative change or would be strengthened with changes to water laws. Accordingly, Water Act Modernization (WAM) encompasse these four theme areas:
- Protect stream health and aquatic environments;
- Improve water governance arrangements;
- Introduce more flexibility and efficiency in the water allocation system;
- Regulate ground water use in priority areas and for large withdrawals
To learn more about the scope and process, click on British Columbia proceeds with Water Act Modernization in 2010. WAM is one of five Living Water Smart implementation themes that underpin the Living Water Smart Vision for stream health and liveable communities. Achieving the vision relies on integration of these five areas of action:
Protect Stream Health
These pending changes are viewed as crucial measures for adaptation to climate change impacts and the pressures placed on water and land resources from a growing population and economy. The following statement of government policy is the lynch-pin of Living Water Smart:
- By 2012, all land and water managers will know what makes a stream healthy, and therefore be able to help land and water users factor in new approaches to secure stream health and the full range of stream benefits. (page 43, Living Water Smart)
Implementation of Living Water Smart is a provincial government priority that involves eleven ministries and a range of stakeholders. On June 10, 2009, John Slater, MLA for Boundary-Similkameen, was appointed as Parliamentary Secretary for Water Supply and Allocation. Through this role, MLA Slater will play a key role in championing progress on Living Water Smart actions.
To share your thoughts with John Slater, go to the Living Water Smart Blog. Water Act Modernization will be the focus of the blog for the next few months.
Create Liveable Communities
“A key message in Living Water Smart is that green development makes sense,” states Lynn Kriwoken, a Director in the Ministry of Environment and the Province's lead person for delivery of the Living Water Smart program.
“New thinking about development leads to new benefits. These include more green spaces, more water and fish in the streams, improved community vitality, reduced demand for water, and reduced expenditures on infrastructure.”
Living Water Smart is complemented by the Province's companion Green Communities Initiative. The latter provides local government with enabling tools to achieve the Living Water Smart vision. An integrated outcome is to protect stream health and create liveable communities.
Climate Change Adaptation
“By choosing to live water smart, communities will be more prepared for climate change and their quality of life will be enhanced. If we can show how to get the water part right, then other parts are more likely to follow.”
According to Lynn Kriwoken, the 'design with nature' paradigm captures the essence of climate change adaptation. “Adaptation is about responding to the changes that will inevitably occur. Adaptation is at the community level and is therefore about collaboration.”
“Water issues are complex and best solved collaboratively, which include using strategies and solutions that fall outside government control. While legislative reform is a foundation piece, collaboration takes place outside the legislative framework. At the end of the day, planners and engineers and other disciplines must come together to determine the issues and solutions. No statute will help them do that.”
“This is why we constantly emphasize that Living Water Smart is about motivating and inspiring everyone to embrace shared responsibility. Influencing behaviour and attitudes is at the heart of moving from awareness to action,” concludes Lynn Kriwoken.
Action on the Ground
Since release of Living Water Smart in June 2008, the Water Sustainability Action Plan for British Columbia has functioned as the Living Water Smart implementation arm with local government.
“The Action Plan partnership network is playing a key delivery role in two of the five Living Water Smart theme areas, namely: community planning and development (#5); and efficiency, outreach, public awareness (#2),” notes Lynn Kriwoken.
“For the past 18 months, the Action Plan focus has been on building practitioner capacity to do business differently on the urban landscape. Water Act Modernization now provides the opportunity to solidify the linkages to the Local Government Act,” adds Kim Stephens, Program Coordinator.
Regional Team Approach:
To download a copy of the discussion document released by the Water Sustainability Action Plan in December 2009, click on Backgrounder: Shared Responsibility Underpins a Regional Team Approach to Creating Our Future in British Columbia
Posted January 2010