“The devastating floods that destroyed homes, farms, highways, dikes and critical infrastructure during November’s record rains are both unprecedented and a climate change wake-up call,” stated Donna Forsyth, Mike Wei and Ben Parfitt in an opinion piece published by the Vancouver Sun.
WATER RESOURCE USE AND CONSERVATION IN BRITISH COLUMBIA: “Over the past several years, the B.C. government dropped the ball on several important and varied water-related files with the result that threats to public health and safety, critical infrastructure and food security have all increased,” stated Donna Forsyth, lead author for an opinion piece published by the Vancouver Sun newspaper (January 2022)
Note to Reader:
In 2010, the provincial government was told by its former water comptroller that River Forecast Centre staffing should be more than doubled. Nothing changed, and a sad result was late and inadequate warnings issued by the RFC in the lead-up to the disastrous floods in November 2021.
B.C. water protection must be a top public policy priority
“Let’s hope they are also a wake-up call for something else: Our government’s failure to make water protection a top public policy priority.”
In the article, the authors provide four examples that underscore their theme: groundwater licensing, illegal water use, logging permits, and the River Forecast Centre.
About the Authors
Donna Forsyth is a former legislative adviser, BC Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy who helped draft the Water Sustainability Act; Mike Wei, P. Eng. also worked for the Ministry and was B.C.’s deputy comptroller of water rights from 2004 to 2018 responsible for the province’s groundwater program; Ben Parfitt is a researcher with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.
To Learn More:
To read the complete Op-Ed, download a PDF copy of Donna Forsyth, Mike Wei and Ben Parfitt: B.C. water protection must be a top public policy priority.
BUDGET CONSULTATION 2022: Partnership for Water Sustainability issues a “Call for Action” by the Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services to rectify a chaotic situation, provide a dedicated budget, and get groundwater licensing implementation back on track in British Columbia (October 2021)
On October 5, 2021, the Partnership for Water Sustainability in BC’s weekly Waterbucket eNews featured groundwater licensing for the second time in three editions because it is fundamental to water management in BC. Leadership and commitment at the highest levels of government have been missing in action during the 6-year transition period for implementation. Consequently, the lack of groundwater licensing is a looming crisis with far-reaching ramifications for the BC economy.
The purpose in featuring groundwater licensing twice within three weeks was to draw attention to the presentation by Partnership President Ted van der Gulik to the Select Standing Committee on Government Finance on September 30, 2021. He laid out a How-To-Framework for a 10-year plan of action to get groundwater licensing back on track.
The Partnership’s Ted van der Gulik made the case for a total investment of $300 million when he explained the situation to the Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services. His presentation on September 30, 2021 was the last of 300 in-person presentations to the committee as part of its Budget 2022 Consultation process.
To Learn More:
A FLOOD OF QUESTIONS: As southern BC reels from epic flood, former provincial flood official says independent expert needs to investigate (December 2021)
“The BC government was clearly warned over a decade ago that staffing levels at its River Forecast Centre (RFC) were far below those at similar operations in Oregon and Alberta and that more than a doubling of employees was needed to provide effective flood-risk assessment and early notice to communities in harm’s way,” wrote Ben Parfitt.
“The warning is contained in a 38-page report written by Jim Mattison, a former senior-ranking member of the provincial Ministry of Environment, who for years was BC’s water comptroller. The report is noted in a new investigation published today by the BC office of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. Mattison submitted the report to the Province in November 2010, after he had left government to become a consultant.”
“The Mattison report noted that the RFC’s staffing needed to rise from 5.5 employees to a minimum of 12 if the agency was to provide effective critical warnings to vulnerable communities threatened by floods. The late issuance of warnings by the RFC in the days and hours leading up to the horrendous flooding that has devastated Abbotsford, Merritt, Princeton and First Nations communities in recent weeks is coming under increasing scrutiny. The agency’s employee levels remain unchanged to this day.”
To Learn More:
Click on the following link to read the complete story THE ERA OF WEATHER EXTREMES IS UPON US: “The B.C. government was clearly warned over a decade ago that staffing levels at its River Forecast Centre were far below those at similar operations in Oregon and Alberta and that more than a doubling of employees was needed to provide effective flood-risk assessment and early notice to communities in harm’s way,” says researcher Ben Parfitt in a new report released by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (December 2021).