British Columbia proceeds with Water Act Modernization in 2010



Living water smart - the commitment


Water Act Modernization

“LIving Water Smart is the provincial government’s plan to keep our water healthy and secure for the future,” states John Slater, Parliamentary Secretary for Water John slater mla (120p)Supply and Allocation, in a letter sent to all local governments in December 2009.

“A key commitment in the plan is to consider amendments to the Water Act to improve the protection of ecological values, provide for more community involvement and provide incentives to be water efficient.”

The Water Act is the heart of the Province’s water governance framework. Established in 1909, the Water Act is the primary water management legislation and has a key role in the sustainability of BC’s water resources.


Recognizing the Change in Context

According to John Slater, reforming the Water Act is not about fixing something that is broken. Instead, he says, it is about recognizing that the context and foundation upon which the Water Act was built was very different 100 years ago. Hence, the Water Act Modernization process is dealing with questions such as:

  • How can we make it more responsive for today’s and tomorrow’s challenges while making it simpler to understand, communicate, administer and enforce?
  • How can it complement non-regulatory tools?

To read the full text of the letter from John Slater, click on Water Act Modernization – Letter from John Slater to Mayors, Councillors and Regional District Chairs


Four Theme Areas

One-third of the 45 actions in Living Water Smart, BC’s Water Plan either require legislative change or would be strengthened with changes to water laws. Accordingly, Water Act Modernization (WAM) encompasse these four theme areas:

  1. Protect stream health and aquatic environments;
  2. Improve water governance arrangements;
  3. Introduce more flexibility and efficiency in the water allocation system;
  4. Regulate ground water use in priority areas and for large withdrawals

For more detail about each theme area, click on Summary of Living Water Smart commitments in Water Act Modernization



The Water Act review is organized in four phases. The Province is currently in Phase 2: Policy Development & Engagement. Phase 4 is Bill Introduction to Legislature in Spring 2011. To learn more, click on Water Act Modernization Backgrounder

To learn more about the scope and process, click on British Columbia proceeds with Water Act Modernization in 2010.


Posted January 2010