The Province of British Columbia has launched Living Water Smart, a new plan urging everyone in the province to restrict their water use. “Water defines British Columbia and it is essential to our quality of life,” Environment Minister Barry Penner said in a press release. “Living Water Smart: British Columbia’s Water Plan” lays out the vision and steps needed to protect our rivers, lakes, streams and watersheds. This plan will make B.C. a leader in water stewardship, fits with our overarching strategy to protect the environment and positions us for continued success in the 21st century.”

Key actions include setting ambitious water efficiency and conservation targets, establishing flow requirements in legislation for ecosystems and species, establishing a maximum 40-year term for water licenses in areas of scarcity, regulating large groundwater withdrawals, and looking to safeguard and learn from First Nations’ traditional and cultural water uses.

The ministry noted that in the next 25 years, B.C.’s population will grow by another 1.4 million people, meaning the same amount of water will have to go a lot further.

Among the highlights of the plan:

  • By 2012, water laws will improve the protection of ecological values, provide for more community involvement, and provide incentives to be water efficient.
  • Legislation will recognize water flow requirements for ecosystems and species.
  • Government will require all users to cut back their water use in times of drought or where stream health is threatened.
  • Government will limit all new licences to 40-year terms in areas where there is high demand and pressure on water.
  • The Ground Water Protection Regulation will protect the quality and quantity of our groundwater.
  • By 2012, government will require all large water users to measure and report their water use.
  • Government and partners will restore ecological health to 30 km of stream between Vaseux Lake and Osoyoos Lake.
  • Government will fund the Mount Washington mine remediation project with $4.5 million, restoring the health of the Tsolum River.
  • To enhance some watersheds, government will examine the potential of decommissioning dams.
  • The province will cooperate with Government of Canada to ensure the quality of drinking water in all Aboriginal communities will meet the same provincial standards applied across British Columbia by 2015.
  • Fifty percent of new municipal water needs will be acquired through conservation by 2020.
  • Government will fund household evaluations of water, energy and transportation use.
  • The Green Building Code will require water conservation plumbing fixtures such as low flush toilets.
  • By 2010, government will mandate purple pipes in new construction for water collection and re-use.
  • In partnership with industry, government will develop a water efficiency labelling system for water consuming products.
  • Government will publish a report on the state of the province’s water by 2012 and every five years after that.

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