“Collaborative consent is about a different way of being together and building a future for Canada in which Indigenous nations assume their rightful governance role as founding nations in this country,” says co-author Merrell-Ann Phare. “There are no barriers standing in the way of BC moving in this direction. Territorial and Indigenous governments in the Northwest Territories have been leaders in a collaborative consent approach for years.”
SHIFTING CURRENTS: How the Water Sustainability Act is Already Influencing Water Management in British Columbia (Keynote Address by Partnership for Water Sustainability at Landscape Architects Annual Conference, April 2016)
Kim Stephens and Ted van der Gulik of the Partnership for Water Sustainability in BC co-presented the keynote. “Licensing 20,000 wells initially seemed daunting when a provincial group met to brainstorm an approach to this immense task. The team had to solve the challenge of HOW to help groundwater users reliably quantify their annual water licence volumes. Suffice to say, the brainstorming resulted in a solution,” stated Ted van der Gulik.
An in-depth analysis of perspectives, emerging trends and opportunities associated with watershed governance and water sustainability. “Decision-makers, communities, rights holders, licensor holders, and stakeholders cannot operate in silos. Rather, they must develop a collective, shared vision for their local watersheds and how to better manage resources for the benefit of users, local economies and nature to achieve long-term watershed health,” says Natasha Overduin.
ANNOUNCEMENT: Forum This Fall to Explore New Approaches to Freshwater Decision-Making in B.C. (Sept 2016)
The forum will engage B.C.’s freshwater stewards and leaders in a strategic dialogue of best strategies to support shared governance in the province. “B.C. is on the cusp of national – even international – leadership for shared decision-making on fresh water. This event can help propel those conversations, sketching out implementation for water governance that actively includes local communities in the process,” states Lindsay Telfer.
“For the first time in B.C., groundwater is now regulated which means that the province is now managing surface water and groundwater as exactly what they are: one interconnected resource,” states Oliver Brandes. “The coming into force of the Water Sustainability Act is only one part of the long journey to a truly substantial, sustainable water law regime. The very best tools in the new Act’s tool box to protect water for nature are still being developed.”
BC’s new Water Sustainability Act addresses seven policy areas that bring together 19 of the 45 Living Water Smart commitments
Looking into the future, collaboratively developed Water Sustainability Plans can integrate water and land use planning and can be combined with other local, regional or provincial planning processes to address water-related issues. “The scale and scope of each plan – and the process used to develop it – would be unique, and would reflect the needs and interests of the watersheds affected,” states Jennifer Vigano.
Op-Ed: Water Legislation Just the First Step for British Columbia- say Oliver Brandes, Deborah Curran and Rosie Simms of the University of Victoria
“The Water Sustainability Act has much to offer, but there are still ongoing concerns,” says Rosie Simms.”While the drought of summer 2015 may now seem a distant memory with November’s torrential downpours and fresh snowfalls, B.C. must prepare for long-term future water uncertainties. Following through on implementing the Water Sustainability Act is a critical step to ensure future water challenges do not become debilitating water crises.”
“California is now facing a historic drought and the consequences of decades of lacklustre follow-through on groundwater management. BC could be in a multi-year drought like California. However, BC does not have to follow this same path. It can learn from the best examples of California’s new regime and, by employing a precautionary and proactive approach, can avoid the situation that California is currently facing,” says Randy Christensen.
BC’s Water Sustainability Act – Water Leaders identify two critical issues essential to the success of implementation
Passed into law in May 2014, the associated regulations are now being developed. In October 2014, a diversity of individuals working on issues related to water sustainability came together at a workshop held at the University of Victoria. “This group of water leaders developed a statement of support to the province which identified action was required on two critical issues to insure success of the Water Sustainability Act,” reports John Finnie.
BC’s New Water Sustainability Act Enables Water Use Monitoring Initiative proposed by Okanagan Basin Water Board
Water use reporting software used in the Okanagan would allow information on major groundwater and surface water extractions to be gathered efficiently from all over B.C. “The water utilities have been very supportive. This approach will streamline fee payments and give much greater value to communities at very little additional cost,” stated Don Dobson.