Archive for February 18th, 2011

Setting a New Course – Towards Watershed Governance in British Columbia by Oliver Brandes

Water and not oil will be the resource that defines prosperity in the 21st Century.  BC’s Water Act is over 100 years old and well out of date, no longer able to deal with existing and emerging water issues in the Province.  Recognition is rapidly emerging that water is where the impacts of climate change will be felt, with longer drier summers, diminished watershed health and function, and reduced storage in snow pack, glaciers and aquifers. Conflict, drought and water scarcity loom, even for a relatively water wealthy place like BC.

To ensure a prosperous future the BC government has committed to modernize its Water Act and to build capacity for water conservation, stewardship and security by investing in effective governance, institutions and models for management. The implications for the rest of the country are significant as this modern Water Act could be a national leader that shows the path forward to a more sustainable approach to water management and governance.

In the face of reduced government finances and resources, and increasing demands for better collaboration by First Nations and stakeholders like local government, stewardship groups, business and industry, provides a perhaps once in a lifetime opportunity to update the current regime.

This presentation will explore three specific options and opportunities for water and governance reform in the province. It will build on research and leading models from around the world and the detailed policy paper released by the POLIS WSP – Setting a New Course by Brandes and Curran.  The presentation will reveal key strengths and weaknesses associated with each proposed model and offer some conclusions about how a more sustainable water future for BC is possible. It emphasizes that clear goals and strong regulatory standards particularly in the areas of watershed and public health, as well as local expertise and involvement in decision making will all contribute to better governance. The work extends the understanding of water watershed governance and recognizes that modernizing our approach to water management and governance is the urgent challenge if we are going to ensure community and regional prosperity.

To ensure a current and focused discussion this review will address Government’s ongoing Water Act modernization process and will emphasize the need to build institutional and ecosystem resilience for a more prosperous water future.

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