Okanagan Basin Water Board Proposes New B.C. Water Commission


Note to Reader:

A new B.C. Water Commission to streamline water use reporting and connect water licence rental fees with water management needs is being proposed by the Okanagan Basin Water Board (OBWB). Such a commission would be self-funded and would also be able to provide grants for water projects with only slight increase in current water license fees. According to provincial figures, these fees are currently so low they would add less than a dollar a year to residential water bills.

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“This approach would improve water services to BC residents and communities at very little additional cost,” says Nelson Jatel, Water Stewardship Director, Okanagan Basin Water Board

“British Columbia’s new Water Sustainability Act introduces a range of new water management service needs including groundwater license management, watershed planning, source water protection, and enforcement. A new water-use reporting commission would help government support the delivery of these services,” observes Dr. Anna Warwick Sears, OBWB Executive Director.

Anna-Warwick-Sears_OBWB_120pp“The old entrepreneurial saying states, we can’t manage what we don’t measure. Combining water rent billing with data collection is a thoughtful strategy to connect measuring water-use and managing it. Water rent collection delivered by the same entity makes sense, because the information is closely related and from the same source.”

“Needed improvements to surface and groundwater water licensing and management in British Columbia would be well served by the OBWB proposal of a new water commission, one management option that is transparent and has a strong business case. Such a commission would also enable a provincial grant program to support local government’s delivery of services outlined in the new Water Sustainability Act.”

“The proposed new commission creates the necessary link between good water-use data and water management, a significant improvement to the current process of managing BC’s precious water resource,” continues Nelson Jatel OBWB Water Stewardship Director. “The business case proposes a new commission that would Nelson Jatel_120pmanage water and build on the made-in-BC Water Use Reporting software developed in the Okanagan and piloted in the Okanagan and the Regional District of Nanaimo.”

Nelson Jatel explains that “the BC Water Use Reporting tool allows utilities and others involved in water management to use the data for planning and managing the resource at an appropriate scale. With a new commission operating the web-based Water Use Reporting Centre province-wide, current data on water use would always be up-to-date and available for making important decisions about shared water. This approach would improve water services to BC residents and communities at very little additional cost.”

“Building on previous senior and local government investments to develop the Water Use Reporting Centre in the Okanagan, we are in a unique situation to develop a new model that supports sustainable water management, economic development and provides a world-class system for British Columbia,” concludes Anna Warwick Sears.


To download a copy of the submission to the Minister, click on Improving Water Management in British Columbia: OBWB Proposal for a New Water Commission (PDF)

To access additional information on the OBWB website, click on A New BC Water Commission.

To read a supporting story posted on the Water-Centric Planning community-of-interest, click on Okanagan Basin Water Board Proposes New B.C. Water Commission.

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