The State of BC’s Water Reporting Project will examine pressures on freshwater resources and societal responses
The State of Environment Reporting Unit at BC Ministry of Environment is leading the development of a report on the State of BC's Water for publication in 2010. The report will fulfil the commitment in Living Water Smart: BC’s Water Plan to publish a report on the state of our water by 2012.
“The report will examine the condition of freshwater resources in BC as well as pressures on these resources and societal responses to the pressures,” states Rowena Rae, Head, State of Environment Reporting. “It will cover freshwater issues province-wide with indicators reported both at a provincial level and for major watersheds.” According to Rowena Rae, indicators will be used to try and answer questions such as:
- How much water does B.C. have? Where is it? When is it there?
- How clean is B.C.’s water for species? For people?
- How healthy are B.C.’s aquatic ecosystems and species? How does lack of water and poor water quality affect aquatic ecosystems and species?
- How much water do British Columbians use? Where and when do we use it? For what purposes do we use it?
- How do British Columbians perceive water? How do we value it?
- What are the major threats to water quantity and quality in B.C.?
- What is happening in B.C.’s major watersheds?
- Where and how could lack of water or poor water quality affect community development? Economic growth?
- What might the future hold for B.C.’s freshwater resources?
“The State of B.C.’s Water Report will present indicators on the quantity, quality, and use of BC’s water as well as on the health of aquatic ecosystems,” continues Rowena Rae. “The report will also need to address key water management issues in the province such as climate change, effects of Mountain Pine Beetle, and growing demands by communities and industries.”
Living Water Smart means “doing business differently” in BC
Published in June 2008, Living Water Smart is the provincial government’s vision and plan to keep British Columbia's water healthy and secure for the future. 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 securing stream health and the full range of stream benefits.
- What does this mean to those involved in land development or redevelopment?
The Province and local government are collaborating to develop a suite of user-friendly tools and approaches for assessment purposes and to provide consistency when reviewing development applications.
What is State of Environment Reporting?
State of environment reporting is a key part of promoting shared stewardship. It provides a way to measure progress on delivering the government’s goals of clean and safe water, land and air, and healthy and diverse native species and ecosystems.
“Regular environmental reports assist organizations, businesses and individuals to make informed decisions,” notes Rowena Rae. To download the most recent report by the SOE Reporting Unit, click here.
Expert Advisory Group
An Advisory Group has been formed to provide advice to the State of Environment Reporting Unit throughout the period Fall 2008 through Fall 2010. “Advisory Group members include representatives from Ministry of Environment, other BC ministries, and agencies, associations and individuals not affiliated with the BC provincial government,” explains Rowena Rae. “Advisors are people who are involved in some aspect of water-related management, research, monitoring, protection, restoration, or communication.”
Indicators Workshop – Fall 2008
“For this report to succeed, it must be rooted by expert knowledge,” comments Rowena Rae. “To begin this process, we invited a range of people with expertise or interests in some aspect of fresh water to an Indicators Workshop on November 26th. The purpose of this workshop was to decide on a list of indicators that will provide the most accurate description of the state of B.C.’s water.”
The workshop format comprised a set of three presentations in the morning by Rowena Rae and her team, followed by a series of group discussions over the balance of the day. These presentations can be downloaded by clicking on the following links:
- Rowena Rae: Introduction to State of BC's Water Report
- Angeline Tillmanns: Watershed Issues on a Regional Scale
- Lynne Bonner: What Makes a Good Indicator?
The presentations provided context that informed the group discussions. In addition, Donna Caddie provided an overview of Living Water Smart.
Connecting the Dots to 'Beyond the Guidebook'
Kim Stephens, Program Coordinator for the Water Sustainability Action Plan for British Columbia is a member of the Advisory Group. He observed that: “The State of BC's Water Report provides the opportunity to connect the dots to other provincial initiatives, in particular Beyond the Guidebook: The New Business As Usual.”
“The desired outcome is create liveable communities and protect stream health by doing business differently with respect to the way we develop land and use water,” continues Stephens. “Looking ahead, the State of BC's Water Project could evolve into a valuable feedback loop for Beyond the Guidebook, especially if it helps us measure progress in doing business differently.”
Beyond the Guidebook builds on the foundation provided by Stormwater Planning: A Guidebook for British Columbia, published in 2002, and incorporates lessons learned over the past six years in moving from planning to action.
“Beyond the Guidebook advances a performance target methodology for correlating green infrastructure effectiveness in protecting stream health,” concludes Kim Stephens. “This initiative adds depth to Living Water Smart.”
Posted November 2008