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December 2016

The Watersheds 2016 edited proceedings summarize key messages and content from the presentations and discussions heard at the Watersheds 2016 forum. This written record is not simply intended as a summary for those who attended the forum. Designed as a resource and reference document, the edited proceedings are for anyone researching or working on implementing innovative new decision-making practices and processes within their watershed.

Edited by Megan Spencer, Natasha Overduin, Kelly Bannister, Rosie Simms, Oliver M. Brandes, and Laura Brandes
November 2016

This report, authored by members of the Forum for Leadership on Water (FLOW) and developed in partnership with the Gordon Foundation, provides a detailed examination of the key elements of the Alberta-Northwest Territories Mackenzie River Basin Bilateral Water Management Agreement. It describes what these will achieve and how they will be implemented. It also provides a broader understanding of the Mackenzie River Basin Transboundary Waters Master Agreement.


Merrell-Ann Phare, Ralph Pentland, Michael Miltenberger, Oliver M. Brandes, Mieke Coppes, Carolyn Dubois, Tony Maas
September 2016

Escalating water challenges in BC require a better understanding and coordinated work to avoid future crisis. Drawing on an extensive review of media, court and tribunal cases, and insights from attending over 100 recent events related to water issues, this report documents dozens of examples of why and where critical water issues exist in the province’s watersheds. It focuses on 5 key issues: (1) Building resilience to droughts & floods; (2) Sustaining water for nature; (3) Understanding the state of B.C.’s watersheds; (4) Protecting water quality for drinking, swimming & fishing and (5) Reconciling the water-energy nexus. The report also suggests possible solutions to these five water challenges to create water security and sustainability over the coming years.

Oliver M. Brandes and Rosie Simms
June 2016

Recent reports and events exploring the concept of watershed governance have laid a foundation for reform in British Columbia. However, considerable knowledge gaps still exist in turning concept into practice. Through an extensive investigation involving interviews, surveys, and a First Nations roundtable, this study illuminates the practical needs and capacities required to implement watershed governance in B.C. Key findings and critical insights include that the current system of water management and governance is not working, and that collaborative watershed governance is critical for better decision-making.

Oliver M. Brandes and Tim Morris
with Jennifer Archer, Laura Brandes, Michele-Lee Moore, Jon O'Riordan, and Natasha Overduin
November 2015

In May 2014, the Province of British Columbia enacted the new Water Sustainability Act, which provides an unprecedented opportunity to fully modernize British Columbia’s water law regime. This report provides an analysis of the Water Sustainability Act and the core regulations required to bring its sustainable aspects into full effect. It outlines leading best practices from around the globe and offers clear recommendations for WSA regulation development in five key areas: (1) Groundwater licensing; (2) Environmental flows; (3) Monitoring and reporting; (4) Water objectives; and (5) Planning and governance.

Oliver M. Brandes, Savannah Carr-Wilson, Deborah Curran, and Rosie Simms
October 2015

This primer is a first step in establishing resources that practitioners can turn to when applying resilience thinking to watershed governance. It introduces key ideas associated with resilience and how they may be applied by those engaging in various facets of governance in Canada. Released by Brock University's Environmental Sustainability Research Centre, the primer is the product of collaboration involving Canadian and international researchers as well as Canadian watershed practitioners.

Katrina Krievins, Julia Baird, Ryan Plummer, Oliver M. Brandes, Allen Curry, Jack Imhof, Simon Mitchell, Michele-Lee Moore, and Åsa Gerger Swartling
October 2015

This report identifies the key water governance challenges specific to hydraulic fracturing across Canada (with a particular focus on British Columbia, New Brunswick, the Northwest Territories, and Nova Scotia) and those knowledge gaps that need to be addressed to resolve such challenges. It emphasizes that the use of water in hydraulic fracturing activity in Canada has not caused, but has certainly illuminated, the fractured nature of existing water governance arrangements. The authors conclude there is an urgent requirement for generative actions that build capacities for accountability, transparency, engaging and co-governing with Indigenous Nations and non-Indigenous communities, and making informed decisions.

The report is based on research undertaken as part of one of five projects within the Canadian Water Network (CWN) hydraulic fracturing program. See CWN's 2015 Water and Hydraulic Fracturing Report for a high level assessment of program activities and identified knowledge gaps.

Michele-Lee Moore, Karena Shaw, and Heather Castleden
with Rosanna Breiddal, Megan Kot, and Mathew Murray
June 2015

British Columbia can learn valuable lessons from California’s extreme drought and recent groundwater law reforms as it drafts its own groundwater regulations under the new B.C. Water Sustainability Act. This report analyzes California’s legislation while taking into account the climatic, social, and legal differences between the state and province. It offers a number of key findings and insights including the urgent need to begin piloting groundwater sustainability plans in critical watersheds in B.C.; the necessity for clear performance standards, timelines, and accountability for local decision-making bodies to ensure successful watershed or aquifer plans; and the importance of shared responsibility between senior government and local decision-makers.

Randy Christensen and Oliver M. Brandes
November 2014

The Watersheds 2014 edited proceedings organize and summarize the presentations given, questions raised, and discussions held during the forum. This written record is not simply intended as a summary for those who attended Watersheds 2014. It is also designed to be a resource and reference document for anyone researching or working on implementing innovative new decision-making practices and processes within their watershed.

Edited by Jesse Baltutis, Laura Brandes, Oliver M. Brandes, Michele-Lee Moore, Natasha Overduin, and Ryan Plummer
January 2014

This compilation of research provides supplementary readings on watershed governance and selected related themes. It is a collection of existing research, reports, and water management and planning tools that were developed by researchers, governments, and water-focused organizations who were partners on the forum, Watersheds 2014: Towards Watershed Governance in British Columbia and Beyond, which was held in Duncan, B.C. in January 2014. 

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