The POLIS Project on Ecological Governance, a research organization at the University of Victoria, released a report on January 22 which proposes “a new model for B.C.’s fresh-water management and policies.” Titled A Blueprint for Watershed Governance in British Columbia, the report comes as B.C. prepares to replace its existing Water Act.
“This could be a real opportunity for positive change, particularly when it comes to engaging local communities in critical watershed decisions,” said POLIS co-director Oliver M. Brandes, who co-authored the report. “It has the potential to ensure basic ecological health, such as minimum flows in rivers to keep fish alive and thriving.”
In addition to issues of water management and policy reform, the report examines the details of who makes decisions relating to water and how to improve the accountability of those decision makers. The report proposes that decisions relating to water management be made according to ecological watershed boundaries, rather than political lines.
“The blueprint sets out a strategic 10-year program and proposes nine winning conditions to ensure success,” said Jon O’Riordan, POLIS advisor and co-author of the report. “Recognizing the unique institutional, legal, cultural, and geographic challenges of B.C., we provide a clear timeline for successfully moving toward watershed governance to improve ecological resilience across the province.”