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Report explores Water Sustainability Plans in B.C.

October 30, 2019  By Ground Water Canada

Victoria – A new paper from the University of Victoria investigates the many possibilities associated with Water Sustainability Plans, enabled by British Columbia’s Water Sustainability Act, to address water challenges and promote sustainability.

The 42-page article – an “Innovation Brief” – was released by University of Victoria’s POLIS Water Sustainability Project and Environmental Law Centre.

Effective and sustainable freshwater management is an urgent priority for communities to maintain ecosystem health, sustain economic prosperity and advance reconciliation between state and Indigenous environmental management, POLIS said in a news release.


“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,” said co-author Deborah Curran, executive director of the Environmental Law Centre. “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.”

The brief describes how Water Sustainability Plans can operate to enhance adaptive water management, improve water sustainability, and build new innovative governance relationships.

It includes a discussion on such plans as a step towards reconciliation and the larger goal of Indigenous self-determination, a clear explanation of the necessary technical components of plans, their legal impact, and hypothetical scenarios to concretely demonstrate possible practical applications and the potential for water managers and communities in different watersheds across the province.

“Our goal with this brief is to support meaningful conversations concerning the essential content needed in Water Sustainability Plans,” said co-author Oliver M. Brandes, director at the POLIS Water Sustainability Project. “We understand that a lot of creativity and resources are still needed to develop and fully implement these plans. We encourage communities and all levels of government to use the Innovation Brief as a starting point for engaging in robust local processes to advance more sustainable approaches to water management and governance.”

Read the full report.

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