BC’s WATER ACT MODERNIZATION: Province releases Technical Background Report as companion to Discussion Paper

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).

Modernization of the Water Act is seen by government, and others, as an essential part of delivering the Living Water Smart vision.  It is about making BC’s water laws simpler to understand, communicate, administer and enforce as communities respond to current and future challenges. The four goals of Water Act Modernization are to:

  • 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 inform British Columbians and solicit comment on Water Act Modernization, the Province has released both a Discussion Paper and a Technical Background Report.

Discussion Paper

The Water Act Modernization Discussion Paper outlines opportunities for using, sustaining and managing water resources in a changing environment and has been developed to encourage dialogue on ways to modernize the Water Act.  It proposes principles to underpin a modernized Water Act and presents goals, supporting objectives and possible solutions.

Technical Background Report

The Water Act Modernization Technical Background Report is a companion document to the Water Act Modernization Discussion Paper. The Technical Background Report reviews historical background, technical information and leading thought and practice that will inform discussion about modernizing British Columbia’s Water Act.

Stream Health & Liveable Communities

“Land use activities affect the health of our water. Therefore, a key aspect of water governance and participation in decision making is the role and function of planning. Plans can help to integrate the management of water into land management and complement community planning processes and decisions,” states the Discussion Paper.

Lynn kriwoken (106p)“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.

Shared Responsibility

“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.

Regional Team Approach

“All of us have an impact on the land, on the water, and on the way things look,” states Susan Rutherford. She represented West Coast Environmental Law Research Susan rutherford (120p)Foundation on the Green Infrastructure Partnership from 2005 through 2010.

“Policy and legal tools can help developers, regulators and designers collaborate to implement green infrastructure solutions and ensure responsible outcomes. Each party in the process has a responsibility.”

“The ‘regional team approach’ is founded on partnerships and collaboration; and seeks to align actions at three scales – provincial, regional and local. Everyone needs to agree on expectations and how all the players will work together, and after that each community can reach its goals in its own ways.”

To Learn More:

Download a copy of a discussion document co-authored by Susan Rutherford and 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.

Living water smart - call to action

Posted April 2010