Water Sustainability Plans in British Columbia: Potential, Options, and Essential Content

New research from POLIS Water Sustainability Project and Environmental Law Centre

Published On: October 22nd, 2019

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.

Released today, a new Innovation Brief from the University of Victoria’s POLIS Water Sustainability Project and Environmental Law Centre investigates the myriad possibilities associated with Water Sustainability Plans, enabled by British Columbia’s new Water Sustainability Act, to address the water challenges ahead and embed sustainability in B.C.

“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,” says co-author Deborah Curran, Executive Director of the Environmental Law Centre, University of Victoria. “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.”

Understanding how Water Sustainability Plans can begin meeting the needs of communities and healthy functioning watersheds will be critical to building necessary watershed resilience and ensuring B.C.’s freshwater future.

The Innovation Brief provides a comprehensive understanding of 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 Water Sustainability Plans as a step towards reconciliation and the larger goal of Indigenous self-determination, a clear explanation of the necessary technical components of Water Sustainability 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,” says co-author Oliver M. Brandes, Director at the POLIS Water Sustainability Project, University of Victoria. “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.”

Download full report.

Download report summary.

Media Contact

Laura Brandes, Communications Director, POLIS Water Sustainability Project,
[email protected]