University of Victoria sets new course for water governance in British Columbia




Water Governance Reform

The University of Victoria’s POLIS Water Sustainability Project has released a detailed policy paper exploring the options and opportunities for water reform in the province. Setting a New Course in British Columbia was developed to assist the British Columbia government with its commitment to address water governance and modernize the 100-year-old Water Act that can no longer deal with existing and emerging water issues in the province.

“Governance alone cannot correct inadequate water management, but poor governance will almost certainly prevent effective management,” says Oliver brandesOliver Brandes, lead author of the report and associate director of POLIS. “Water is where we’ll feel the impacts of climate change and modernizing our approach to water management and governance is the urgent challenge if we are going to ensure community and provincial prosperity.”


Options and Opportunities

The research outlines three possible paths forward, weighing both pros and cons. The detailed analysis shows the way to a more sustainable water future for BC that can save money; enable better collaboration with First Nations, local governments and stakeholder groups; and ultimately build institutional and ecosystem resilience.

Longer drier summers and diminishing watershed health, coupled with looming conflict over water resources, will require new forms of governance and new relationships with affected communities and stakeholders, he says.

“The path forward is clear,” says Deborah Curran, co-author of the report and senior instructor with UVic’s Environmental Law Centre and Faculty of Law. “Provincial goals and strong regulatory standards in the areas of watershed and public health, as well as local expertise and involvement in decision-making, will all contribute to better governance.”

Brandes and Curran point to the daunting challenges of finding the right balance between local and provincial decision-making, but emphasize that a fresh approach to governance is urgently needed. Their report contains the latest research from around the world on water governance applied to the BC landscape.


To Learn More:

To download a copy, click on Setting a New Course in British Columbia – Water Governance Reform and Opportunities


Posted June 2009