On March 11, British Columbia’s Environment Minister, Mary Polak, introduced legislation to update and replace the province’s century-old Water Act. The new Water Sustainability Act includes improvements in the following key areas:

Environment Minister Mary Polak introduces the new B.C. Water Act. Credit: Province of British Columbia.

– Protecting stream health and aquatic environments
– Considering water in land-use decisions
– Regulating and protecting groundwater
– Regulating water use during times of scarcity
– Improving security, water-use efficiency, and conservation
– Measuring and reporting large-scale water use
– Providing for a range of governance approaches

The changes to B.C.’s water legislation are a long time coming; since 2009, the government has engaged with individual British Columbians, First Nations organizations, and stakeholder groups to determine how best to improve water sustainability in the province.

“The development of the new Water Sustainability Act is a historic achievement,” Polak said. “The act will respond to current and future pressures on our fresh water—including groundwater—and position B.C. as a leader in water stewardship.”

The Water Sustainability Act will be brought into effect in spring of next year.

“The new Water Sustainability Act modernizes the previous, century-old Water Act, which didn’t reflect today’s norms or values, especially from an environmental perspective,” said Mark Angelo, rivers chair of the Outdoor Recreation Council of British Columbia. “This new legislation is a welcomed step forward and will improve our ability to better manage and care for our rivers, aquifers and water resources in general.”

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