The Okanagan Valley is a great trough that cuts across the highlands of southern British Columbia. Most of the population live down on the valley bottom or on the surrounding benchlands.
The Okanagan Basin is dry because it lies in the rain shadow of the Coast Mountains. Most water enters the Okanagan Basin as winter snow on the highlands.
“The Water Sustainability Act provides a fresh opportunity and framework to collaborate and implement watershed-based solutions,” says Ted van der Gulik
“The provision for development of watershed-based Water Sustainability Plans will enhance food security by securing water for future development of agricultural lands; ensure critical environmental flows for survival of fish and other aquatic habitat; promote a water balance way-of-thinking; and establish a water reporting system so that water is used beneficially,” states Ted van der Gulik.
“The act signals a fresh approach based more on stewardship and protection than simply on rules for resource extraction. All of us must become architects of our sustainable water future by ensuring that our leaders keep their promises and the words they use have real meaning and follow-through,” writes Oliver Brandes.
The Water Sustainability Act replaces the 105-year Water Act. After the act was passed, Environment Minister Mary Polak described it as a historic achievement for British Columbia. “Those were different times with different demands on our water resource. B.C.’s entire population was only 350,000. Today, our provincial population is 4.6 million,” she added.
Given our growing population, changing climate and expanding development, we must take concrete steps to ensure our supply of clean fresh water is sustainable. Our generation has a duty and an obligation to be water stewards today, and for the generations that follow,” stated Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations Steve Thomson.
“Water Sustainability Act for British Columbia” — New legislation sets stage for considering water in land use decisions
“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,” stated Mary Polak.
“In just two years of program implementation, 23 Water Smart communities have reduced community water demand by an average of 12 per cent, with some achieving savings of more than 30 per cent. How? By focusing their conservation activities where the potential savings are biggest: reducing leakage in the distribution system,” reports Meredith Hamstead.
Stormwater Management Considerations for Aquatic Species: Risks, benefits, and design considerations for stormwater ponds and ditches for wildlife
According to Elke WInd, amphibians are particularly vulnerable due to their semi-permeable skin and both aquatic and terrestrial habitat requirements – making them good indicators of wetland health.
From Watersheds to Ditches: Wetlands Workshop for Municipalities Investigates Wetland Conservation in Metro Vancouver
Pamela Zevit, Coordinator for the South Coast Conservation Program, presented an overview of regional tools to protect species and communities at risk. Her mission is to bring local government representatives together to overcome barriers and challenges.