Category:

Understanding Water Resources

TOWARDS WATERSHED SECURITY IN BRITISH COLUMBIA: A report on the role of water in modernized land use planning by the University of Victoria’s POLIS Water Sustainability Project (July 2020)


“In the past decade, land and water planning by the provincial government have advanced in fits and starts. Plans were often developed in response to conflict and litigation by Indigenous Nations or by local governments and authority holders seeking to fill planning gaps. While these plans are highly local and fit for purpose, they lack provincial authority and resources making them challenging to enforce. The report titled ‘Towards Watershed Security’ provides direction to both provincial and Indigenous decision-makers by outlining the need for, and elements of, a reformed provincial land and water planning framework,” stated Rosie Simms.

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WATERSHEDS 2020: Stepping Stones to Collaborative Watershed Governance in British Columbia (a virtual forum hosted by the University of Victoria’s POLIS Project on October 15-16, 2020)


“Watersheds is an ongoing series of forums designed to inspire and nourish B.C.’s water community—an almost decade-long tradition of engaging with innovative ideas and bold thinking, building connections and networks in our freshwater community, and finding sustainable solutions to pressing problems. This forum will bring together a diverse community of water leaders in B.C. to build and deepen connections, learn from one another, and explore opportunities for improved watershed decision-making and longer-term watershed security,” stated Laura Brandes.

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PREPARE FOR TOMORROW: “A Watershed Security Fund offers an opportunity for government to deliver effectively on multiple commitments and would provide a mechanism to integrate policy priorities at a landscape level,” states Tim Morris, Project Director, BC Freshwater Legacy Initiative


“50 years ago, BC’s political leaders took bold action to secure our farmland by creating the British Columbia Agricultural Land Reserve. This act of vision and courage created a legacy of food security that still benefits British Columbians today. But securing our farmland was only half the job: just like farmland is the source of our food security, healthy watersheds are key to our water security. It’s time to take bold action once again to secure and sustain our critical fresh water sources forever,” stated Tim Morris.

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WATER SUSTAINABILITY LEGISLATION IN BRITISH COLUMBIA: “Not obtaining a groundwater licence and hoping that government will never find out is doomed thinking,” say Mike Wei, formerly BC’s deputy comptroller of water rights, and David Slade, water well drilling contractor


“If an existing groundwater user applies after March 1, 2022, they will be viewed as a completely new user and that seniority will be gone! In many watersheds, the chance of an existing user getting a licence applying after March 1, 2022 may not even be possible – imagine how that would impact the business or land owner? It may not seem like it, but we have entered a new reality. A reality of no return. Existing groundwater users need to realize this, so they can do the right (and smart) thing and apply for a licence prior to March 1, 2022,” stated Mike Wei.

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CLIMATE CHANGE, POLLUTION AND URBANIZATION THREATEN WATER: “Canada could support the world in achieving water sustainability, but it must first get its own house in order and achieve the UN’s water goals nationally,” urge Corinne Schuster-Wallace, Robert Sandford and Stephanie Merrill in an op-ed (February 2020)


“Canada already has the expertise, technologies, industries and research capacity to make good on a commitment to water sustainability and universal achievement of the UN’s water goals for all Canadians. But it needs leadership to advance research and practice to expand our existing strengths, and export these internationally,” wrote Corinne Schuster-Wallace. “Canadian research institutions have a role to play in bringing the country together by showing Canada and the world the solutions and benefits of achieving these goals.”

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A WATERSHED SECURITY FUND FOR BRITISH COLUMBIA: Position Paper on Building Resilience and Advancing Reconciliation (released November 2019)


“First Nations communities often lack the necessary financial resources to meet the demands placed upon them from Crown governments and industry, and to proactively develop and implement their own water protection plans, policies, and laws. A Watershed Security Fund would provide lasting financial support to First Nations and community partners to build and strengthen their capacity to undertake watershed stewardship, planning and governance activities for the benefit of all British Columbians,” stated Susi Porter-Bopp.

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RIVER DELTAS ARE DROWNING: “Many of the world’s deltas are now facing an existential crisis. Sea levels are rising as a result of climate change, while deltas are themselves sinking, and together this means the relative sea level is rising extra fast,” wrote Dr. Frances Eleanor Dunn, geosciences researcher, University of Utrecht


“We found that most of the world’s major deltas will receive less river sediment by the end of the century, regardless of the environmental change scenario. Our results suggest that many deltas – already significantly stressed – will become sediment starved, further compounding the risks of rising relative sea levels,” stated Frances Eleanor Dunn. “Some of the most severe reductions will be found in major Asian deltas such as the Ganges (81% less sediment) and the Mekong (77%).”

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FLASHBACK TO 2015: The Water Sustainability Act allows for the development of Water Sustainability Plans to integrate water and land use planning to address the potential impacts of land use decisions and actions on water


“The scale and scope of each Water Sustainability Plan – and the process used to develop it – would be unique, and would reflect the needs and interests of the watersheds affected. Planning will be an effective tool where the need is great, and where other area-based management tools are not able to address the links between land use and watershed impacts,” explained the Ministry of Environment’s Jennifer Vigano. Water Sustainability Plans can be combined with other local, regional or provincial planning processes.

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NEW REPORT > ‘Tapped Out’ Sounds Alarm about British Columbia’s Looming Water Crisis


“Many people believe that B.C. has limitless water supplies. Unfortunately, this is simply not true. All over the province, communities are already experiencing water shortages, and low water levels in many rivers threaten the survival of salmon. I began this project about a year ago, and my mission was to find a way to demonstrate how B.C. does not have the abundant water that many people think it does. Unfortunately, BC has very poor information about how much water we have and how much we use,” stated Tanis Gower.

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ADDRESSING WATER CHALLENGES IN BRITISH COLUMBIA: “Water Sustainability Plans are a powerful new legal tool with a lot of potential and flexibility to address local needs and priorities across the province,” says Deborah Curran, Executive Director of the Environmental Law Centre, University of Victoria


Understanding how Water Sustainability Plans can begin meeting the needs of communities and healthy functioning watersheds will be critical to building necessary watershed resilience and ensuring B.C.’s freshwater future, says Deborah Curran. “They haven’t yet been implemented anywhere in British Columbia, which creates an opportunity for us to really explore how they could be used to their fullest extent.” Effective and sustainable freshwater management is an urgent priority for communities if they are to achieve multiple desired outcomes.

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