“Water Sustainability Act for British Columbia” — New legislation sets stage for considering water in land use decisions



On March 11, 2014, the Province of British Columbia introduced the Water Sustainability Act (Bill 18) in the provincial legislature for first reading. The Act will have widespread impacts on how water and land practitioners conduct their work. The Partnership for Water Sustainability in BC contributed to the consultation process as a member of the Water Act Modernization, Technical Advisors Group.


“The Water Sustainability Act recognizes that groundwater and surface water are interconnected and addresses the need to manage them together,” says Environment Minister Mary Polak

“This legislation delivers on government’s commitment to modernize B.C.’s water laws, regulate groundwater use and strengthen provincial water management in light of growing demands on water and our changing climate,” stated Mary Polak, BC Minister of Environment, when she and her colleague Minister Steve Thompson introduced the legislation.

Mary-Polak_120p“Over the past four years government has engaged widely with British Columbians. We have used this input to create legislation that provides greater certainty for water users, improves environmental protection, and better responds to local and regional needs. The Water Sustainability Act recognizes that groundwater and surface water are interconnected and addresses the need to manage them together.”

“The Water Sustainability Act will repeal most of the Water Act, which has served as our primary water law since 1909.  Many important provisions of the Fish Protection Act will also be brought into the Water Sustainability Act and a new Riparian Areas Protection Act will be created to ensure continued protection of riparian areas.”

Integration of Efforts and Watershed Health

“The Partnership for Water Sustainability applauds the Province for recognizing the connection between land use actions and the implications for both the water cycle and watershed sustainability in the local government setting,” states Kim Stephens, the Kim-Stephens_April-2013_trimmed3_120pPartnership’s Executive Director.

“The Water Sustainability Act would put a strategic water lens in front of decision-makers so that they integrate objectives for water quantity, water quality, and watershed and stream health.”

“Because integration of these objectives would address cumulative effects (or conversely, cumulative benefits) in a watershed context, we envision that the Water Sustainability Act would create new opportunities for stakeholders to work together and facilitate desired outcomes for watershed and stream health in populated areas,” concludes Kim Stephens.


For a summary of what is being proposed, download an Overview of the Legislative Proposal,  Read the complete announcement by Minister Polak at Introducing the Water Sustainability Act.

To download a copy of a submission by the Partnership for Water Sustainability in BC, click on Feedback on the Legislative Proposal for a “Water Sustainability Act for BC”.

To read stories posted previously on the Water-Centric Planning community-of-interest, click on the links below:

“We urge all stakeholders to be inspired by the opportunities the Water Sustainability Act opens to make a difference,” says Tim Pringle, Past-President, Partnership for Water Sustainability 

Integrating the Site with the Watershed, Stream and Aquifer: Partnership for Water Sustainability releases “Primer on Water Balance Methodology for Protecting Watershed Health”

Water-Sustainabilitry-Act_Legislative-Proposal-Overview_Oct-2013_seven key areas