Blog Post #1 – A new Water Sustainability Act for B.C.



Welcome, and thank you for visiting our new website.

Today, we’ve released a Legislative Proposal for a new Water Sustainability Act. A key commitment of government, the Water Sustainability Act responds to B.C.’s growing population, expanding development and changing climate. The proposed new Act would update and replace the existing Water Act and help ensure that our water stays healthy and secure for future generations.

Over the past four years we’ve consulted with citizens, First Nations, industry groups, environmental groups, local governments—everyone who has an interest in our water resource. British Columbians have sent us thousands of submissions—you’ve offered us some great ideas covering everything from how to protect groundwater to how to ensure our streams and lakes stay healthy.

We’ve considered all of your ideas and put together a proposal for a new Water Sustainability Act, to be introduced in the spring of 2014. Now, I’m inviting you to offer your feedback one last time, so we can make sure our new water legislation really does serve your needs, and the needs of future generations. Your feedback will help us refine our legislative proposals, and also help guide us as we implement the new act in the months and years ahead.

Have a look through the Legislative Proposal, the Overview or check out what others have been saying. Over the next four weeks, I’ll be interested in hearing your feedback and what’s most important to you.

Thanks for taking the time to help us modernize the rules around our most precious natural resource.

Mary Polak

Minister of Environment

 

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    User avatar
    [-] Camille Dow Baker

    Dear Sir/ Madam,

    This is Camille Dow Baker. I posted a response listed on November 13 at 11:05 am.
    I would like to correct one of the references quoted in this document.
    Reference 2 is Page 2, Self-supply, The case for leveraging greater household investment in water supply. Water Services that last, March 2012, IRC, Stef Smits, Sally Sutton
    http://www.irc.nl/page/71001

    I apologise for the error.
    Sincerely Camille

    User avatar
    [-] Brianna

    I believe that we are not respecting or making proper use of an essential resource if we privatize water usage. Water is an essential resource and should be available to all. While I do believe that there should be plans in place and fees for companies that need to use water in an industrial sense (i.e. tracking). These companies should be responsible for developing water treatment plants that turn out fresh, clean water or help to reuse the water already being used in the process. In an everyday capacity we need to develop a country wide sustainability plan where water is reused. Water treatment plants should be developed in cities to help make dirty water reusable for consumption or use.
    Please DO NOT take the privatization of water and the use of water in industry lightly. We need to protect what little fresh water we have and make sure we use it sustainably so that future generations have what they need.

    User avatar
    [-] Marsha Henderson

    I am concerned that we aren’t treating water as the precious resource it is. There are many opportunities to re-use water instead of using up fresh water, and we’re not making responsible use of them. A plan to work towards new housing, industry and developments be able to provide their own tertiary level sewage treatment and water re-use would make best re-use of water.

    Fracking uses up huge amounts of water. If it has to happen, why cant it be using ‘used’ water that’s already contaminated, instead of contaminating fresh water? If you challenge industry to come up with their own ideas, and don’t allow them to use fresh water, there is enough money to be made that they will come up with ideas.

    PLEASE do not put temporary ‘jobs’ for a small segment of the population, and obscene profits for an even smaller segment, ahead of our right as Canadians and British Columbians to enjoy our water…and keep it safe and pure.

    User avatar
    [-] joan lemmers

    It seems that the i pp s are all about rich people getting richer !!! Leave the water and the future projects sleeping until the citizens of B C need it. Maybe to power our electric cars and to heat our homes; then it is ours and not some rich guys. The Box Creek project doesn’t think water temperature changes are important to fish habitat.; I heard the planner at the Gibsons meeting state this.; a few degrees doesn’t matter. Who is taking care of the hen house maybe the foxes. The province is ours; the people ;do not sell it off without a land use strategy plan GET IT RIGHT!!!

    cree

    User avatar
    [-] Alberto Mendoza-Galina

    It shall be stated that water is a resource for and of the people of BC, not the Crown. The natural resources of a country shall belong to its citizens.

    High efficiency water usage technologies should be in place all the time and not only when drought or dry events occur.

    There should be a panel that would constantly identify areas for improvement on how to use less water. Legislation that can support, as applicable, the requirement of using such devices or technologies that can improve efficiency, or decrease water usage.

    The “first in time” right to water use in times of dry or drought events is not a democratic activity, and it may not be in the best interest of the people of BC. Water in times of dry or drought events (or at anytime for that matter) shall be administered to serve first all the necessary and basic human needs. This is a prioritization based on meeting the needs of the people and their communities and NOT based on the “first in time” right. The “First in time” right to water use shall be deleted from the ACT.

    In times of dry or drought events the government shall have the authority to stop non-essential water usage immediately.

    Industries that profit from exploiting water resources as a raw material or processing aid, shall pay more for the resource to the people of BC and the amount of resource used should be limited to levels that do not affect the watershed. An expert panel of citizens, academics, government shall be appointed to set these limits as well as the frequency for re-evaluation and monitoring.

    In the particular case of drinking water industries BC shall have a percentage of profits, the water belongs to all the people of BC, this should become a way to have funds for social programs that have suffered with cuts, health and education to name a few.

    Water and watersheds do not exist in a vacuum, land use, forestry practices and human activities, within a given watershed, should be evaluated as a unit. In this sense there cannot be forestry practices without assessing potential effects to the watershed and so on. It is time we understand ecosystems are interrelated and we need to use interdisciplinary tools, experts and technologies to be smarter at how we use our water and other natural resources.

    Watersheds in BC shall be evaluated by academic and citizen experts, upon this evaluation that should include land use, forestry and other human activities, we should be able to develop guidelines for water usage, as well as monitoring activities, to reach a sustainable way of using water. I am sure we will find “gaps” between “sustainable use guidelines” and our current usage. The second step of this panel would be to develop a working plan to close that “gap” until we can reach a “sustainable” way of using our water resources. Licenses then can be either re-issued or stopped or modified accordingly.

    In fact this Act should be called “The Watershed Act” and not “Water Sustainability Act” we can not have water sustainability treated as a sole element, the title is wrong, even more calling it sustainable, we can not reach water sustainability, or land sustainability, sustainability encompasses ecosystems and its elements. The title “Water Sustainability Act” is conceptually wrong and misleading as it is not designed nor it can pretend to achieve it.

    User avatar
    [-] Carla Lewis

    The BC Water Act must first and foremost provide and ensure free, clean, drinking water for all beings and be protected against contamination and pollution for the future. In today’s industrial based economy and in the face of climate change proactive measures are critical to ensure potable water is our greatest resource.

    User avatar
    [-] Jules

    I would place emphasis on the inclusion of:

    – Environmental Flow Needs & Water Objectives that are watershed specific, and not loose guidelines, but firm requirements. Meaning: if the EFN and the WO are not being met, development is halted, industry is halted until the problem is rectified and flow and objectives restored to where they should be. The environment comes first. No exceptions. Development and industry are both dependent on it, as are all living things! We need to let go of short term “gains” and focus on long term prosperity of all beings.

    – Firm EFN and WO requirements goes hand-in-hand with having enough staffing and funding to monitor and enforce. Also, grants should be available for municipalities to complete watershed specfic assessments to establish EFN and WO that are appropriate for their locality. This funding should in part come from high fees to industry and large extractors — LOOK AT THEIR PROFIT MARGINS they can afford to pay environmental levies to support the long term health and stewardship of our most valuable resource.

    – Even though specific is best, there should be a base threshold for EFN and WOs so that watershed managers have a place to start prior to completing watershed specific establishements of EFN and WOs. This base threshold should be generous on the side of environmental protection NOT on the side of exploitation.

    Thank you for the opportunity to comment!!

    User avatar
    [-] Andreas Dolberg

    As a resident in an urban area of the province, I am concerned that the provisions in the proposed Act fall short of ensuring that water will be available to provide for the food security requirements of British Columbians. There is clear unequivocal protection through provincial legislation for agricultural land, and the same protection must be in place to ensure water will be available for agricultural purposes, as food production is not possible without water. This needs to be more clearly recognized in the new legislation by providing for secure access to water for all agriculture lands in the province. A more appropriate focus of Section 2, for example, (now “Considering water in land use decisions”) would be “integrating water and land use decisions”, i.e. clarifying that it works both ways – in areas that are either in the Agricultural Land Reserve or zoned agricultural, agriculture needs to be designated as a priority use along with Critical Environmental Flows and fish habitat. “Allowing for” Agriculture Water Reserves to be created (as stated in Section 5) does not clearly enough establish through legislation that agriculture will be designated a priority use of water for food security purposes.

    User avatar
    [-] Anne Franklin

    I’m excited to see a long-needed update of our water legislation.

    I see some promising updates in the proposal– for example, the implementation of a governance framework that allows for various approaches in terms of planning and decision-making. To recognize that different areas have specific needs and to allow the regional authorities to make decisions based on local requirements is an excellent step in the right direction.

    However, I find there are several areas lacking in the proposed update.

    First of all, improved public participation is essential for a process such as this. I strongly support the notion that an extended deadline of March 1, 2014 is necessary for a satisfactory measure of public input.

    I’m also very concerned to read that the consultation with First Nations is below even the standards of the New Relationship. Vast improvements to the consultation process are necessary. It would be good to see legislation upheld that meets or even exceeds First Nations standards.

    I must also express great concern that our ecosystems are being more or less overlooked in this Act. The health and survival of our aquatic systems is absolutely essential to our province, and there needs to be proper legislation to ensure their well-being. A separate water sustainability plan for each ecosystem, as needed, is totally inadequate; there must be higher, stricter laws for this. The health of our aquatic ecosystems cannot be left to local discretion.

    I also believe there ought not to be legislative exemptions made for industrial groups- they must uphold the rules concerning the resources they use. Licencing should be granted in reflection of the public interest, and strict mitigation and offsetting mandates should be implemented.

    As well, I believe the price of water should be set high to discourage unnecessary water use, particularly by large-volume users, as well as to promote awareness of the amounts of water used versus what is actually needed.

    Furthermore, transparency in governance is, as always, essential, and I do not see enough of it in the proposed Act. As well, it would be good to require a regular review of the Water Sustainability Act, followed by further updates as needed. 104 years is an unsatisfactorily long time to wait for updated legislation.

    And finally, I believe legislation ought to be written at this crucial point in time, promising our children and grandchildren the highest possible standards of clean, healthy ecosystems for the future. There should be no option to reverse or degrade this legislation, and it should be upheld with the strictest possible regulations and penalties, for it is essential for our well-being as well as that of the future generations of our province.

    User avatar
    [-] JP

    Well said Anne. I concur wholeheartedly and second your concerns and stand behind your suggestions.

    User avatar
    [-] David Van Seters

    I appreciate the opportunity to comment on this proposed Legislation and commend the provincial government on its efforts to update the Act. I would like to make two points. The first is to echo the comments of many others that the proposed water use fees are far, far too low. One of the best ways to ensure that our water resources are conserved is to charge fees that are sufficiently high enough to cause them to be used wisely and efficiently. For large water users, the fees should be at least 200 times higher than what is currently proposed.

    My second point is that given that this is called a Water Sustainability Act, one of its most important elements should be to measure and report on whether this resource is being used sustainably – ie not diminished over time. While you have commendably added provisions to track the use of water by large water users and make it mandatory for large water users to report, I could not find anywhere where you are committing to report annually on the overall sustainability of the resource. In short, I would like to see a provision in the Act that commits the provincial government to issue and annual report card that stipulates whether the quantity and quality of BC’s water resources have been diminished, have been maintained at the same level, or have improved both on a province-wide based and regionally.

    I am particularly concerned about our stocks of groundwater, which I do not believe are being adequately tracked at present. We need to know whether our stocks of natural capital are being maintained in perpetuity. No self-respecting business would sacrifice its balance sheet to improve its income statement. However, unless we are tracking our regional and province-wide stocks of groundwater (which is essentially a non-renewable resource), we may be unwittingly eroding our provincial balance sheet and diminishing opportunities for future water users (including non-human ones).

    I recognize that the Provincial Government may not have the authority to require groundwater supply reporting from all users (e.g. municipal users) but, if not, then it must work to secure the necessary reporting commitments so the provincial government can definitely state each year that groundwater supplies are not being diminished and to require corrective action if they are.

    Thank you again for providing this opportunity to comment on the legislation and for the many other positive changes that are already incorporated into the proposed wording of the Act.

    User avatar
    [-] J. Ivor Norlin

    The following represent my position on the draft proposal in context of Interior Health’s role in drinking water protection …

    Interior Health (IH) interests:
    Since the Water Act review and modernization process began with the 2008 release of Living Water Smart, IH staff have identified and advocated for change in two key areas: integrated watershed management and water system governance.
    Water suppliers and private water system owners in our region continue to be challenged by land-use developments that impact on the long-term quality and sustainability of their water supply. In the southern interior these impacts are associated with a range of new and existing resource extraction, recreation, and community development activities. It is crucial that an integrated approach to land and water use management be employed giving fair, meaningful consideration to all parties including water supply system owners and users.
    Governance of water allocations is clearly an important topic for the large number of community and private water systems in our region that draw from ground water or fully allocated surface water sources. However, the governance concerns for IH also include water users communities (WUC) created and regulated under the Water Act. 46 of the 73 WUC permitted under the Drinking Water Protection Act in BC are located in our region. Over ¾ these WUC are currently on long-term boil water notices due to inadequate treatment and poor water quality.

    The Water Sustainability Act proposal:
    The issues above are addressed under key areas #2) Consider water in land use decision, and #7) Provide for a range of governance approaches, of the Water Sustainability Act proposal.
    The proposal points to water quality objectives and watershed specific planning as tools to support sustainable allocation and land-use management. In principle this would provide a platform for integrated watershed management; however, we note that water quality objectives and watershed/basin specific sustainability planning were available under the existing Water Act. It is possible the updated framework will provide greater flexibility to implement these tools going forward (e.g. through delegated governance models); however, there is also the potential for these tools to remain ideas in principle and do virtually nothing to address the needs of our communities.
    The Water Act Modernization (WAM) initiative has paid much attention to governance of water allocations. The proposed enhancements (including licensing of groundwater withdrawal) have potential to improve management of water resources. However, the issues with water supply systems owned by water users communities appears to have received little to no attention. It is possible that at some point in this five-plus year review process the legislative structure for WUC was explored and no issues were identified. If that is the case, then the current state of WUC must then rest with (the lack of) implementation of existing legislative tools.
    Recommendations
    I strongly recommend that prior to moving forward the existing proposal be updated to:
    1) include a (≥5 year) framework including specific deliverables and timelines for implementation of water quality objectives and watershed sustainability plans throughout the province
    2) explicitly acknowledge the challenges water users communities have had in complying with basic health and safety standards
    3) if no issues were identified with the legislative structure for water users communities, specify next steps to ensure available tools are being applied to support communities served by these systems

    Additional specific comments on the current draft proposal:
    – Off-stream watering for live stock should be accommodated for on fully allocated streams. This would compliment current efforts by local ranchers and MFLNRO in creating sustainable range management plans and help to sustain riparian buffers, an important factor in stream health.
    – There should be specific reference to the use of water supply and demand studies for large water suppliers as a tool to support sustainable water supplies in the face of climate change and/or periodic drought.
    – There should be a more explicit link between domestic water licensing and drinking water safety requirements to facilitate coordinated government action to ensure potable water for all. This could include a formal consultation process between water stewardship and health authority staff when licenses for domestic supplies are being considered.
    – Consideration should be given to specific requirements/tools to facilitate integration of existing Water Users Communities. Some powers exist under the existing Water Act to cancel permits for water conservation purposes, but provincial staff have been very hesitant to apply them to date.
    – The province has recently started to provide water licenses on fully allocated lakes/reservoirs for the lease lots based on unused water amounts. This is a disincentive for water suppliers to conserve water and does not align with the concept of ecological valuation for water. In addition, this lets the lease holders establish a greater claim to the water front property on reservoir lakes. Water suppliers rights on upland reservoir lakes must be respected.
    – Source water protection planning should be explicitly linked to the provisions of the Water Sustainability Act. The expertise and powers of provincial environment and MFLRNO staff are crucial for effective water system source assessment and protection planning. The link between these staff/agencies and drinking water source protection processes in BC is currently tenuous at best, relying largely on individual staff pushing their way to the table. Explicitly linking source protection plans (quality/DWPA) with supply and demand plans (quantity/WSA) would provide a consistent mandate for government action to protect drinking water.
    – We must be confident that adequate language/powers/tools exist to facilitate balancing of domestic and agricultural users needs and demands during drought. Agricultural water allocation rules must be adequate (i.e. in consideration of FITFIR) to support decision making for food security.

    User avatar
    [-] R Dudonis

    Protection of water flows for fish and other environmental values is too discretionary in the WSA Proposal! “Environmental flows need to be scientifically defined and it must be mandatory to meet them in all new and existing licences”.

    The proposed water objectives must make protecting environmental flows for nature a priority, must be enforceable and apply to all sectors of industry. “No exemptions for forestry or oil and gas”.

    30 years between licence reviews is not sufficiently flexible; “reviews should happen more frequently”.

    There need to be more opportunities for the public to participate in the granting of water licenses and the setting and monitoring of environmental flows. BC needs independent oversight of water and watershed management with the resources and expertise to do it right.

    User avatar
    [-] Lisa Dahrouge

    *Minimum water flows to maintain ecological integrity must be scientifically determined and legally binding on all existing and new licenses, not merely set out as ‘guidelines’ of which ‘preferred’ industries (like the oil & gas sector) are exempted. The definition of “beneficial use” should be expanded to reflect modern realities, and be made binding upon all water users. Licenses should be reviewed periodically so to ensure they are balanced with current supply and demand. Public participation in numerous aspects of water decision-making, including licensing, must be ensured.*

    Climate change risks may be uncertain, but it is prudent to prepare for worst case future scenarios. Climate change aside, we are currently witnessing ecological decline in water systems throughout our province. It is wise to heed to the example of other jurisdictions, like Australia, which might give us a preview of our worst case scenario. In the face of extreme scarcity pressures due to ongoing drought that has no determinate end, Australia is having an extremely difficult time allocating minimum water flows for the environment from the water ‘budget’ they have on the Murray-Darling river system. We can avoid problems like they are experiencing in Australia and elsewhere by meaningful action now to maintain environmental integrity for generations to come.

    User avatar
    [-] R Faust

    After reviewing the proposal I am left with the following comments
    1. Water needs rights in law. The Modernization fails in that regard. Water is so integral to every living thing that it should not be considered a “USE” but rather a value to be protected and conserved. It should be central to evaluation of all other uses. Change the act to give water status of a primary resource in law

    2. The highest use is domestic and agricultural needs. Following Maslov’s hierarchy of needs should not be difficult for those writing water law. Crown resources are resources of the people of British Columbia. We own them , pay through property tax to have clean, available and constant water supply.First in Time First in Right should be confined to domestic and agricultural use and I appreciate the Proposal indicating that the Controller of Water will apportion water in times of scarcity however there is no benchmark ensuring citizens are the first to have “right” to water first. First In Time First In Right has been a long standing system of land use organization and if to be changed requires careful thought and roundtable strategic planning in each area of the province.

    3. Watersheds need to be viewed in their entirety including groundwater when assessing domestic, agricultural and business expectations. the Modernization still continues this fragmented approach and does little to look at the resource for capacity and ensure all uses are inventoried.

    4. Fish and riparian rights. Again there lacks an integrated approach to water volume, quality and clarity required by fish. The notion that we can allow deleterious materials to be introduced to and alteration of fish bearing streams and then request mitigation is ill conceived , costly and subject to abuse and should be eliminated as any kind of strategy that indicates science is the basis for decision making. Both freshwater and ocean fisheries bring in billions of dollars to BC and water is the basis of the economic driver. Losing habitat is not an option

    5. Definition of Watershed. This is a definition that requires public explanation. In effect all land contributing to a river is a watershed because both channels and face units have a role to play however to be more specific is a watershed the contributing land between the slope break that contributes to a creek, river or stream in steep terrain and is it the catch basin for a stream , river in flat geography? Lets define it and stay out of these areas with harmful activities except for remedial work.

    6. Professional reliance and deregulation. Water requires regulation. It is too important a resource to have professionals working on behalf of individual clients dictating the use of water and land surrounding water without fairly inflexible rules. This is the most troubling part of the modernization in that personalities both in government and the private sector will have discretion over abiding by law. It is unacceptable. Different regions in the province may have different legislation governing water given the scarcity and other geographic and ecological conditions however the rights of water should be inflexible within that context. If we look at recent reports of where discretion and professional reliance have taken roads and bridges in the forest we get a picture it doesn’t work.
    7. Local decision making. Without a strict framework where water has a right in law and all stakeholders, primarily domestic, civic and agricultural users are at the table water management will follow a three year election cycle. The province needs to set impeccable standards before devolving responsibility.

    8. The proposal for oil, gas, water sales and mining’s use of water as well as what they are charged is equal to corporate welfare. The same can be said for water bottlers such as Nestle in the lower mainland. If households are charged between 600 and 6000 per year for domestic use under license then industry needs to pay similarly per gallon . These large volumes should be assessed as soon as possible for sustainability given the eco-system and other human and wildlife needs of the water in the face of climate change and expanding populations.
    9. The sale or diversion of water should be eliminated as a possibility unless for the purposes of prevention or mitigation of an emergency.

    In a nutshell the proposal does not have water as the primary focus but rather how we can somehow mold water to shape our continuation of its misuse. Please enshrine water as an entity with rights and define fish domestic and agricultural use as the primary hierarchy of right.

    User avatar
    [-] Travis Clyne

    Thank you for reviewing and updating BC’s Water Act. Thank you for consulting with the general public. I believe it is also important to consult and collaborate with First Nations communities.

    Aspects I would like to see in BC’s Water Sustainability Act are:

    1. Public water stays public. The term “Beneficial Use” can use clarity as it is not clear if the beneficiaries can claim property rights to the water.

    2. Public costs and regulations apply to all users. Specifically, not making exceptions for industries, such as mining, forestry and bottled water, that would compromise the integrity of ecosystems.

    We need fresh air, water, and food to live and thrive. Water is such an important life-giving resource not just for us but for all species that help to keep the larger ecosystems healthy including us.

    User avatar
    [-] Tsolum River Restoration Society

    Tsolum River Restoration Society (TRRS)
    November 15, 2013
    Thank you for the opportunity to comment on the Water Sustainability Act Legislative Proposal.
    The TRRS feels that not enough time was provided between the release of the WSA Legislative Proposal and the deadline for comment. Many of the folks who care so deeply about this resource are volunteers and have limited time to address significant changes to one of the most important Acts in our Province. We join our voice with those other stewardship groups around the Province who are demanding the deadline be extended to March 1, 2014 ensuring astute and thorough commentary from all.
    Water is a finite resource and we must find ways to share domestic, industrial, commercial, agricultural and ecological needs. From the limited time we have had to analyze this document we do not observe this sharing done from a perspective of understanding capacity first and allocations based on that capacity.
    We feel strongly that Environmental Flows should be given a primary role first. The current exemptions for major water users must be brought into a capacity overview and an allocation plan based on today’s capacity.
    British Columbians care about their water and the quality of life inherent in its role in life in general cannot be overstated.
    Please allow more time.

    User avatar
    [-] Jill

    Thank you for the opportunity to respond to New Water Modernization Act.
    The public consultation process should be extended as thirty days is hardly long enough to review such a document.
    Ensure there is protection of all domestic well owners – unregistered private wells have no protection. Domestic water wells need protection especially in areas where there is oil and gas activity; concern if not registered and there is an issue who would be responsible since several oil companies could have an invested interest in the subsurface within an area.
    Regulate all groundwater including saline water; large removal of saline water for industry should have a fee for use.
    Manage aquifers to maintain the health of the aquifer and associated surface water flows as groundwater extraction can divert surface waters.
    Water extraction from streams and creeks allowed by permit rather than license needs to be closely monitored.( Licensing is not be the answer to this problem as permits are considered temporary use) Is there enough studies done to know what the risk is to the underground aquifers or other surface water where tremendous amounts of fresh water in Northwest BC is removed daily for the fraccing of natural gas. How are these waters going to be protected under the new legislation?
    Ground water needs protection from contamination by the oil and gas industry through fraccing and water disposal wells.
    Reject water licenses that could be traded in markets.
    Environmental flow needs to be scientifically defined.
    Licenses need to be review every 10 years.
    Retain First In Time, First In Right model of licensing

    It appears the WSA favours the Oil &Gas Industry over other industry such as agriculture.
    Ensure agriculture’s water needs are given priority over other users (oil and gas, mining, subdivision and community expansion, etc.) We cannot eat oil & gas and presently the majority of natural gas development is for sale to other countries.

    It is hoped that the new water act is there to protect our finite resource for future generations of Canadians.

    User avatar
    [-] Nienke Klaver

    From another post: “Water is BC’s most important natural resource. Given the pressures of a growing population, changing climate and expanding development pressures, steps must be taken to ensure that BC’s use of freshwater is sustainable. A new WSA must ensure that private rights to water do not take precedence over this the sustainable management of this public resource.
    There must be no exemptions from regulations; Public, private or governmental. In years to come, don’t let the citizens of BC look back to when this government did not do enough to protect this invaluable resource.”
    Can’t say it any better.

    User avatar
    [-] Rita Wong

    Hello
    Here are some ways to improve the act:
    1. Protection of water flows for fish and other environmental values can be further strengthened. “Environmental flows” need to be scientifically defined, and it must be mandatory to meet them in all new and existing licences.
    2. The WSA needs to explicitly state that any private rights to use water cannot harm the public’s interest in precious water resources. As well, British Columbians will continue to reject attempts to create licences that could be traded in markets.
    3. The proposed provincial ‘water objectives’ must make protecting “environmental flows” for nature a priority, must be enforceable and apply to all sectors of industry. No exemptions should exist for forestry or oil and gas, as contemplated in the proposal.
    4. In a climate changing world, 30 years between licence reviews is not sufficiently flexible; reviews should happen more frequently. As well, the new groundwater licences that are going to be granted to existing users, primarily large industrial users, must explicitly state they are subject to a future review until it can be determined the withdrawals are at sustainable levels and to allow for honourable government-to-government consultations with First Nations.
    5. Fee schedules for both groundwater and surface water use must cover government’s costs for responsibly managing our water, and ensure resources are available for local watershed planning and management.
    6. There need to be more opportunities for the public to participate in reviewing water licenses and the setting and monitoring of environmental flows. BC also needs independent oversight of water and watershed management with the resources and expertise to do it right.
    7. The commitment to shared governance in local watersheds is a positive step, and it must ensure local watershed groups have a clear mandate and the resources to engage responsibly.

    Water is key to our future, and I hope the new act does everything it can to build a long term and sustainable culture that values and respects healthy watersheds.

    User avatar
    [-] Gabe lavoie

    Unfortunately I am quite uniformed about this proposal and thereby can’t really agree or express any specific concerns, however I believe it is critical that such legislation be handled with extreme care and scope.

    In no event can we allow our water regulations fall prey to another North American Free Trade Agreement!

    From what I can see and have heard that is the heading this proposal is currently on.

    I agree with those saying it needs more work, exposure, and time.

    Apparently there is no mention of how hydraulic fracturing will be regulated if allowed?

    That’s kinda creepy…

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    [-] Jake

    There must be more time for more discussion. It would be a disservice to everyone impacted by such an important act not to allow for a more developed dialogue regarding these issues.

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    [-] Jean Wilkinson

    Clear, enforceable regulations are needed to protect water flows for aquatic species and ecosystems, and must apply to all new and current licences. No exemptions should be made for any industrial use, and tighter regulations on the impacts of water use by industry should be developed. In particular, use of water for fracking should cease. Public control of water resources is critical, and private companies must not be granted licences that can be traded or sold. Licences need to be reviewed regularly, at least every 5 years, to ensure that water use is at a sustainable volume and not negatively impacting ecological or human communities. Responsible management of water resources must focus on the common good, including environmental protection, and not on private gain. Local representatives must have a say in managing local watersheds. Finally, the deadline for public comment should be extended to ensure full input on legislation regarding water, our most vital natural resource.

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    [-] Lillian Porritt Wonnacott

    Water is a basic human right, something that should not be a bought commodity. How are you helping this? What about fracking? Why is first pipe first right still in this plan? How are we British Colombians supposed to process, discuss and give input to such a dense and industry-friendly documents? We need more time. One month is a blink to an act you plan to review in 35 years. Please, this is our water. We live here.

    User avatar
    [-] William Smith

    First of all, I would like to thank the province of BC for putting in the time and effort to allow for an opportunity for the public to provide feedback. A number of key pieces of legislation in BC require updating (Wildlife Act, Mines Act, Placer Mining Waste Regulation, etc.) and I am happy to see that the process is underway for the Water Act. I am happy to see some wording around the protection of aquatic health and fish habitat through the protection of minimum environmental flow. It would be nice to see some strong language (no “where possible” or “where practical”) in the final statute, identifying clearly defined/measurable requirements around the protection of aquatic ecosystems and fish habitat. In addition, no industry should be exempt from this statute (e.g. Oil and Gas). Given the changes to the federal Fisheries Act and lack of capacity at BC DFO offices, it is time for the province to step up and provide protection to a resource so important to British Columbians.

    Secondly, I would encourage the provincial government to change the measuring and reporting section to include a wider range of commercial users. There are several industries where the province has no idea how much water is being used and how much is being used relative to what is available (for example placer gold mining). There are many small to medium sized projects/industries that fall below the criteria for environmental assessments and yet still have the opportunity for significant environmental degradation. These industries are not well monitored, so requiring the proponent to provide measuring and reporting could be a great asset to compliance and enforcement and water allocation staff. Given the limited availability of water resource data in the northern section of the province, reporting could assist water managers in effectively limiting water use, balancing risk, and protecting aquatic health and First Nations values.

    Lastly, I would like to see greater protection for water quality. The Environmental Management Act does not specifically identify water quality standards/thresholds. The provincial water quality standards should be clearly linked to legislation so that British Columbia’s water quantity and QUALITY are protected for generation to come.

    User avatar
    [-] Bob Haywood-Farmer

    Retention of the first in time first in right principal is important to protect the long term investment that has been made by the agricultural industry in its water licences and water works. These water licences provide benefit not only to the agricultural land they are appurtenant to, but also other resources on the land base such as recreational, wildlife, environmental etc.
    It is important to encourage the retention of existing water storage (dams on lakes) as well as the development of new/more storage. Given that we are facing projected water shortages, it should be paramount that we promote increased water storage capacity. Current direction by government to move the liability of such dams onto the water licensees discourages storage, as the benefits to that licensee are sometimes outweighed by the costs of that liability. However, the benefits of that storage to the public of BC as a whole, are far greater in terms of recreational values, habitat values, agricultural productivity, not to mention long term water sustainability and water availability for future generations. Therefore, the liability, construction, and maintenance costs of dams should be born by all beneficiaries of the works, not just the water licensee. Other beneficiaries of these works include but are not limited to: conservation groups, fishing resorts, recreationists, wildlife habitat, and the public as a whole as well as the water licensee.
    We need to create some mechanisms to share the costs associated with water storage. One such mechanisms would be a return to having dam inspectors/engineers employed by the government who carry out the inspection and support maintenance of water infrastructure. This would reduce the risk to the public by ensuring that dam inspections are done frequently and adequately. By relying on industry to complete inspections and maintenance at their own cost, the public risk is increased, and we are promoting the removal of storage by licensees by making the associated costs prohibitive. In an era where we are facing imminent water shortages, is this really in the publics best interest?
    A major change to the new Act vs. the old Act is the move toward metering all large water licences. It is important to gather information as to how much water is being used and where in order to make good decisions about future water allocation. However, it is important that the measurement of water use be done in a practical cost effective way that is not prohibitive to water users. For example, rather than requiring the installation of very costly water meters, simple solutions such as multiplying the number of sprinklers x the flow rate of each sprinkler should suffice. By allowing common sense solutions that will provide the same information at a lower cost to the licensee, it will be easier to gain buy-in from water licensees and prevent “gaming” of the system to avoid costs and penalties associated with water metering.
    It is in the publics best interest for BC Hydro and other power producers to receive use of the water at reasonable rates to ensure that power rates remain low and support the competitive advantage for BC industry. This ensures that the benefit of British Columbia’s natural resources, water being one, goes to British Columbians. Conversely, water and power that are exported or sold to foreign companies should be sold at a profit. Exploitation of natural resources should be regulated to allow for economic development and investment in British Columbia. These resources should not be handed out to foreign interests at discounted rates so they can sell them on the free market and export the benefit ($$$$) of our resources elsewhere, and outcompete our own industry. Our agricultural industry should continue to receive power and water rates at rates that keep them competitive with surrounding jurisdictions such as Washington State.

    User avatar
    [-] Carrie Spencer

    Provincial Acts that provide guidelines are insufficient when dealing with a natural resource. This Act must have enforceable objectives with clear and effective penalties for misuse. The Act should also set a specified review term of the Act itself at a minimum of 10 years to ensure that citizens can adjust their water needs to the changing climate and social conditions.

    All water licenses, regardless of the industry involved, must explicitly allow for the protection of existing fish spawning routes and other endangered water dwelling species. Similarly, community groundwater, aquifers and wells must have a guaranteed first right to all water. Ideally, it will be communities who have the final say on the issuing of groundwater licenses and the ability to revoke those licenses if due process determines there is a negative impact on the community water supply. Any grandfathered licenses issued to existing users must be reviewed in light of the new Act and subject to adjustment if deemed to be functioning at unsustainable levels.

    In the public interest of this most precious natural resource, unused or unneeded licenses must be returned to the government for redistribution and cannot be traded. Private bulk water exports should not be permitted at all. If we ever need to export water on humanitarian grounds, it should be a government action.

    User avatar
    [-] Jenny

    As a water conservationist I believe it is very important to educate people how to respect and to not overuse one of the most important resources on earth. Many people can be extremely wasteful whether it is from poor education or ignorance and there needs to be a method in place to ensure people like that don’t “drain” our precious resource. My biggest concern would be allowing companies like Nestlé to have access to any of our waterways for profit or any other reason. Please do not allow this to happen. It is negligence to our province and sheer stupidity and not worth the money. Our water should be conserved for our province not for any greedy companies profit. Please respect our province and make this a priority in your act. When all the water is gone we can’t live off of money! Thank-you.

    User avatar
    [-] David R. Boyd

    The Right to Water:
    Moving from International Recognition to Provincial Action

    Dr. David R. Boyd
    Adjunct Professor, School of Resources and Environmental Management,
    Simon Fraser University, Canada
    drboyd@sfu.ca

    Introduction

    Thank you for the opportunity to comment on the proposed Water Sustainability Act for BC. This piece of legislation is long overdue, in light of the fact that a minimum supply of potable water is a vital prerequisite for life, health, dignity, and the realization of other human rights (Gleick 1996; Howard and Bartram 2003; UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, 2007). Globally, there are approximately one billion people who currently do not enjoy safe drinking water, thousands of children die every day from water-related illness, and climate change is expected to exacerbate these crises (World Health Organization and United Nations Children’s Fund, 2010). Even in the wealthiest nations on Earth, such as the United States and Canada, there are thousands of people who lack access to clean water and adequate sanitation (de Albuquerque 2011; Boyd 2011). This includes people in British Columbia.

    Many experts agree that legal recognition of the human right to water is a significant step towards increased access to safe drinking water (Smets 2006; United Nations Development Programme, 2006; World Water Council 2010; Sultana and Loftus 2011). Therefore prominent individuals, governments, and civil society organizations have campaigned vigorously for recognition of this right at both the international and national levels (Dubreuil 2006; Barlow 2007; Gorbachev 2010). Examples include Mikhail Gorbachev, the government of Bolivia, and NGOs such as Green Cross International, the Council of Canadians, WaterAid, Rights and Humanity, and the Freshwater Action Network.

    1. Defining the Right to Water

    The right to water requires that all persons have affordable access to a supply of safe water in quantities adequate for essential personal and domestic uses, which include drinking, sanitation, clothes washing, food preparation, and personal and household hygiene (UN Committee on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights, 2003). An adequate supply requires a minimum of 50 to 100 litres per person per day (Gleick 1996; Howard and Bartram 2003).

    Recognition of the right to water requires governments to respect, protect, and fulfill the right. Respecting the right requires states to refrain from interfering directly or indirectly with the right (e.g. government cannot deny water services to individuals who cannot afford to pay). Protecting the right means ensuring that third parties do not interfere with or violate the right (e.g. through enacting and enforcing legislation that prevents water pollution). Fulfilling the right requires positive state action—such as investment in water treatment and distribution infrastructure—to ensure that the right is universally enjoyed (de Albuquerque, 2010).

    The benefits of recognizing that water is a legally protected human right include:
    -triggering stronger water laws, regulations, and policies;
    -prioritizing resources for investment in water infrastructure, governance, and management;
    -empowering citizens and communities to take part in decision-making processes related to water;
    -clarifying the appropriate priorities in allocating scarce water supplies;
    -providing a potential remedy for those whose right is being or may be violated;
    -protecting water from pollution and other adverse impacts;
    -preventing discrimination or neglect of under-privileged or marginalized communities; and
    -providing a means of holding governments and corporations accountable (Bluemel, 2004; McCaffrey and Neville, 2009; Sultana and Loftus 2011).

    It can be argued that the right to water need not be explicitly recognized because it is implicit in other widely acknowledged rights such as the rights to life, health, a healthy environment, and an adequate standard of living (Tully 2005). However, a more compelling argument is that ensuring sufficient attention and resources for the right to water requires that it be given the prominence and visibility of an explicit and distinct right (Langford 2006; Khalfan and Kiefer, 2008). It is also important to recognize that Canada is among a minority of countries globally that does not recognize its citizens’ right to live in a healthy environment or right to water.

    There are many misconceptions regarding the right to water (Center on Housing Rights and Evictions, 2007). It does not entitle everyone to an unlimited supply of water at all times, in any place, under any circumstances. It may be limited by the concept of progressive implementation, and such reasonable and just limits as are necessary in a free and democratic society. The right to water does not obligate nations to share their water resources with other nations, as state sovereignty is unimpaired by recognition of the right. The fact that water is a human right does not mean that it should be free. Charging a price for water that reflects its full costs is justifiable on grounds of ecology, equity, and efficiency, subject to the imperative of providing a basic quantity of free or subsidized water for economically disadvantaged communities and individuals.

    2. International Recognition of the Right to Water

    Although mention of the right to water dates back to the Mar Del Plata Action Plan that emerged from the UN Conference on Water in 1977, there is not yet a global human rights treaty establishing this right in explicit, universal, legally binding terms. Almost all nations have endorsed non-binding political declarations that mention the right to water, such as the Programme of Action of the 1994 Cairo Conference on Population and Development, endorsed by 177 States. Article 14(h) of the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women provides for the right “to enjoy adequate living conditions, particularly in relation to … water supply.” Article 24(2)(c) of the Convention on the Rights of the Child sets forth children’s right to “adequate nutritious foods and clean drinking-water.”

    The right to water is not explicitly included in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights or the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (ICESCR). However, implicit rights to water and sanitation are arguably included in s. 25 of the Universal Declaration (the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family) and ss. 11 and 12 (the rights to an adequate standard of living and health) of the ICESCR. The UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights published General Comment No. 15 on the Right to Water in 2002, providing guidelines for the interpretation and implementation of the right (UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights 2002). General Comment No. 15 identifies a suite of core obligations related to the right to water that are to be implemented immediately:
    (a) To ensure access to the minimum essential amount of water that is sufficient and safe for personal and domestic uses to prevent disease;
    (b) To ensure the right of access to water and water facilities and services on a non discriminatory basis, especially for disadvantaged or marginalized groups;
    (c) To ensure physical access to water facilities or services that provide sufficient, safe and regular water; that have a sufficient number of water outlets to avoid prohibitive waiting times; and that are at a reasonable distance from the household;
    (d) To ensure personal security is not threatened when having to physically access water;
    (e) To ensure equitable distribution of all available water facilities and services;
    (f) To adopt and implement a national water strategy and plan of action addressing the whole population;
    (g) To monitor the extent of the realization, or the non-realization, of the right to water;
    (h) To adopt relatively low-cost targeted water programmes to protect vulnerable and marginalized groups; and
    (i) To take measures to prevent, treat, and control diseases linked to water, in particular ensuring access to adequate sanitation (UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, 2002).

    An earlier General Comment published by the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights confirmed that governments have a core obligation to ensure the satisfaction of, at the very least, ‘minimum essential levels’ of each of the rights enunciated in the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, 1990).

    Momentum toward explicit and binding international recognition of the right to water has accelerated in recent years. In 2007, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights concluded “that it is now time to consider access to safe drinking water and sanitation as a human right [necessary] to sustain life and health” (UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, 2007). In 2010, the UN General Assembly passed a non-binding resolution recognizing the right to water, with 124 nations voting in favour, none against, and 41 nations abstaining. The resolution stated “the right to safe and clean drinking water is a human right that is essential for the full enjoyment of life and all human rights” (UN General Assembly, 2010). Later in 2010, the UN Human Rights Council issued a similar resolution, confirming that “the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation is derived from the right to an adequate standard of living and is inextricably related to the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, as well as the right to life and human dignity” (UN Human Rights Council, 2010 ).

    The recent UN General Assembly resolution on the right to water has already had a demonstrable effect. In January 2011, the Botswana Court of Appeal relied on the resolution in ruling that the constitutional rights of the Bushmen of the Kalahari were being violated by the government’s refusal to allow them to access a water source within a wildlife reserve where they resided (Matsipane Mosetlhanyane et al. v. Attorney General, 2011).

    3. National Recognition of the Right to Water

    At the national level, the right to water is also gaining broader legal recognition (Langford, Khalfan, Fairstein, and Jones, 2004). In 2007, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights observed that “an increasing number of States are recognizing safe drinking water as a human right in their constitutions, as well as national legislation, while national courts are enforcing it as a justiciable right” (United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights , 2007).

    3.1. Constitutional Protection
    Constitutional protection of the right to water can occur through explicit provisions or through recognition that the right is implicit in other human rights. Constitutional provisions explicitly requiring the protection and/or provision of clean water are found in at least 18 nations, and are increasingly prevalent in new constitutions. For example, both the Dominican Republic and Kenya enacted new constitutions in 2010 that recognize the right to water, as did Morocco in 2011. In South Africa, the right to water is explicitly articulated in its 1996 Constitution and is enforceable through the courts:
    27. Health care, food, water, and social security
    (1) Everyone has the right to have access to—

    (b) sufficient food and water …
    (2) The state must take reasonable legislative and other measures, within its available resources, to achieve the progressive realization of each of these rights (Wolfrum and Grote 2012).

    Explicit constitutional recognition of the right to water has had a significant effect on South African water laws and policies. For example, the Water Services Act of 1997 states:
    S. 3(1) Everyone has a right of access to basic water supply and basic sanitation.
    (2) Every water services institution must take reasonable measures to realize these rights.
    (3) Every water services authority must, in its water services development plan, provide for measures to realize these rights… (Act No. 108 of 1997).
    South Africa’s recognition of the right to water also has contributed to major investments in infrastructure (Kok and Langford 2009; Du Plessis 2011). In 2000, South Africa also passed legislation implementing the procedural rights entrenched in the constitution (e.g. the right of access to information), which are essential for the full enjoyment of substantive rights. Recognition of the constitutional right to water is credited with spurring the extension of potable water to ten million South Africans (predominantly black and poor) in ten years (Smets 2006). Nelson Mandela describes increased access to safe drinking water for millions of South Africans as “amongst the most important achievements of democracy in our country” (Mandela 2002). In Uruguay, the constitutional provision guaranteeing the right to clean water also prohibits privatization of the water supply. UN data show that 100% of Uruguayans enjoy access to improved sources of drinking water, consistent with their constitutional right (World Health Organization and United Nations Children’s Fund 2010). Empirical data offers a compelling rebuttal to critics of the right to water.

    In a number of nations where there is no explicit constitutional right to water courts have held that the right to water is an implicit but enforceable constitutional right (Boyd 2012). These nations include:
    -Argentina (Picolotti 2005; Beatriz Mendoza 2008);
    -Belgium (Judgment No. 36/98, 1998);
    -Brazil (Supreme Court of Justice 2006),
    -Costa Rica (Supreme Court of Costa Rica, Sala Constitucional 2007);
    -Colombia (Defensoria del Pueblo 2009);
    -India (Narain 2010);
    -Indonesia (Judicial Review of the Law No. 7 of 2004 on Water Resources);
    -Israel (Zarchin 2011);
    -Nepal (Belbase and Thapa 2007); and
    -Pakistan (General Secretary West Pakistan Salt Miners Labour Union, 1994).
    Courts in these nations based their decisions on the fact that access to safe drinking water is a fundamental prerequisite to the enjoyment of other human rights, including the right to life and the right to live in a healthy environment. The right to life, which arguably includes an implicit right to water, is universally found in national constitutions (Law and Versteeg 2011). There are more than 90 nations whose constitutions now explicitly recognize the right to live in a healthy environment (Boyd 2012). The right to clean water is regarded as an integral element of this broader right. Empirical evidence demonstrates that there is a strong positive correlation between environmental provisions in constitutions and superior environmental performance (Boyd 2012).

    For example, in Argentina, based on the constitutional right to a healthy environment, courts have ordered governments to provide communities with potable water, construct drinking water treatment facilities, provide medical treatment for individuals harmed by contaminated drinking water, and carry out environmental remediation of polluted watersheds. An Argentine case involving Chacras de la Merced, a poor community whose drinking water was being contaminated by inadequate wastewater treatment in an upstream municipality, illustrates the potential for using the right to a healthy environment to advance the right to water (Picolotti 2005). An ENGO brought a lawsuit against the upstream municipality and the province on behalf of local residents asserting a violation of their constitutional right to a healthy environment. The Court agreed that there was a violation of the right and ordered the government to upgrade the wastewater treatment plant and, in the interim, provide a supply of clean water to the residents of Chacras de la Merced. The court-ordered infrastructure improvements were completed, and in an interesting development, the municipality passed a bylaw mandating that all future sewage and sanitation tax revenues must be re-invested in upgrading and maintaining the sewage system. Similarly, on the basis of the right to a healthy environment the Supreme Court of Argentina ordered federal, provincial, and municipal governments to clean up and restore the heavily polluted Matanza-Riachuelo watershed, home to millions of people (Beatriz Mendoza 2008). The World Bank has provided $840 million for water and sanitation infrastructure as a direct result of the Supreme Court’s judgment (World Bank 2010).

    Constitutional recognition of the right to water does not create an absolute right to water. Courts will take into account the specific circumstances of a case and the challenges facing a government in determining whether the right is being violated (Mazibuko et al. v. The City of Johannesburg 2010).

    3.2. Legislative Recognition
    Dozens of countries explicitly recognize the right to water in national legislation or policy, including Algeria, Angola, Argentina, Bangladesh, Belarus, Belgium, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Ghana, Guatemala, Guinea, Honduras, Indonesia, Latvia, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Mauritania, Namibia, the Netherlands, Nicaragua, Norway, Paraguay, Peru, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Senegal, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Ukraine, and Venezuela (Langford, Khalfan, Fairstein and Jones, 2004; Smets 2006). For example, France enacted a new law in 2006 that explicitly recognizes the right to water:
    Art. 1. Water is the common heritage of the nation. Its protection, enhancement and development, in accordance with the balance of nature, are of general interest.
    In the framework of laws and regulations previously established, the use of water belongs to every physical person, for food and hygiene, and everyone has the right to access to drinking water under conditions economically acceptable to all.
    The costs of water use, including environmental costs and the resources themselves, are borne by users, taking into account social, environmental, and economic consequences and geographical and climate conditions (Government of France 2006).

    In nations where the rule of law is respected and there are adequate resources available, it can be expected that laws and policies recognizing the right to water will be implemented and enforced, resulting in greater access and less human suffering. The right to water is also being recognized at the sub-national level, with the Northwest Territories being the Canadian pioneer in this regard. In 2007, the 15th Legislative Assembly of the NWT declared, “all peoples have a fundamental human right to water that
must be recognized nationally and internationally, including the development of appropriate institutional mechanisms to ensure that these rights are implemented” (Government of the Northwest Territories 2010).
    Conclusion

    Incorporating the human right to water in BC’s proposed Water Sustainability Act is not a silver bullet that will automatically address British Columbia’s water challenges. However it is a powerful tool that can be used to focus attention and resources on improving access to water for those individuals and communities who currently endure the hardships imposed by the absence of safe water. It also has the potential to provide political power and legal remedies for individuals and communities whose right to water is not being respected or fulfilled. Finally, recognizing the right to water will ensure that all British Columbians, present and future, have a voice in the management and conservation of this precious natural bounty, the source of all life.

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    User avatar
    [-] Elizabeth Kaller

    Water legislation must state that water is a right (aligning with the UN declaration) and is owned/stewarded by the people, as part of the commons; and that no use will be allowed to harm this right.

    It must cover all water and all use and users.

    It must include the people in decision-making and care.

    It must give priority to basic needs, of humans, of other life and of the environment. (How could you provide for basic human needs, even in times of scarity, in isolation?)

    It must recognize the rights and cultures of First Nations, and, as well, insist on seeking out the knowledge of First Nations about their territories.

    It must provide for developing and maintaining a water inventory, for monitoring all resources, for controlling all use, for enforcing legislation and regulations, and for evaluating legislative provisions and results. Self-reporting lends itself to inaccuracy, or worse.

    For heavy use of water, it must set the standards for licenses high and expensively, and limit permits to definite periods, of reasonably short duration.

    It must incorporate terms under which existing water licenses can be amended or cancelled.

    It should provide for generous funding, including funding for local groups providing support. Local initiatives should not be seen as excusing the province from its responsibilities.

    It must be couched in language that is precise and strong. We are all water users and stakeholders. “Consider,” “discretion,” and “flexibility” lead to mushiness.

    Regarding different requirements in different areas – Wouldn’t it be safer to categorize in terms of geographical features, climate . . . instead of place?

    User avatar
    [-] Kristi Fairholm

    The two points that I’d like to make are to ensure that:

    – environmental management of our water flows and water tables are scientifically mapped and verified, and results are transparent and public
    – there is an integrated principle, verified, for the sustainable use of water that meets the current and future eco-system needs of plants and animals that depend on that water
    – pricing of water is financially sustainable in that it covers the cost of water management, scientific research, verification, public consultations, environmental assessments and any environmental reconstruction/repair that may need to be covered in case of issues

    User avatar
    [-] Star Morris

    I appreciate the opportunity to participate but feel the deadline for comment needs to be extended to do justice to setting the future for what I and other British Columbians have identified as our most valuable resource – Our Water!

    I have managed to read the WSA Proposal while travelling but will be in transit back to BC and unable to submit specific comments by tomorrow’s deadline. I ask … is government willing to extend the comment period?

    Should an extension for comments not be granted, I submit that I have read and fully endorse the submission from the Polaris Water Sustainability Project at the University of Victoria in its entirity.

    The Polaris submission is available here: http://poliswaterproject.org/sites/default/files/POLISWAMSubmission_November2013.pdf

    User avatar
    [-] Marie Gaudreau

    To the Ministry of Environment Water Protection and Sustainability Branch

    Please consider this my feedback on the proposed Water Sustainability Act:

    KEY CONCERNS – Not in order of any priority

    From the outset, this proposal has been three years in the making while the government has only given the public and various other stakeholder groups one month to respond. This does not make sense. The imposed timeline is far too short of a time period for any meaningful responses from the majority to be received, compiled and reviewed. The deadline should therefore be extended to April 1, 2014 at minimum.

    UBID notes that this is a “proposal” only. The proposal is so huge and unwieldy it is difficult not to believe the intended purpose is to baffle the reader. There is no legislation or regulations attached. From our perspective, “the devil will be in the yet to be received details”. Therefore, UBID urges the government to consult once again very broadly with all stakeholders prior to the actual presenting of the legislation and regulations. Legislation should prioritize public health and safety, (quality and sustainability), above all other interests which this current proposal does not do.

    The Public Trust Doctrine must be embedded within the legislation. The Public Trust Doctrine does not appear within said documents and this is a necessity if the Water Act is going to be meaningful. Water, and access to water, belongs to the Commons. The people are the Commons. Water belongs to the people of this province and that must be clearly and distinctly recognized within the Water Act.

    Environmental Flow needs and critical environmental flow must be embedded in Provincial Water Objectives which it currently is not. Without our environment, there would be no economy. There must be clear and legally enforceable environmental flow protections that apply across the province in watersheds where, in particular, EFN’s are under threat.

    Why is it necessary to have Water rights and anything to do with Water enshrined in FOURTEEN Provincial Acts? There should be one Water Act with any and all water related issues imbedded within the one Act instead of having 14 Acts that affect our water. This is blatantly harmful. If the government is going to leave 14 Acts in place to deal with our water, then these other 13 Acts require revision to give the ‘Water Sustainability Act” the top priority it should have.

    There should be a Ministry of Water where responsibility for this resource is under the control of one Ministry.

    Exemptions must not be given to oil, gas and forestry and any other industry/corporation. These exemptions, given to industry, are being enshrined within the Water Act and are unacceptable.

    On page 64 of this proposal it states: “(e.g., allow for delegation of some water management activities or decisions to people or agencies outside the provincial government or more than one person or agency with the authority to exercise the same powers);” This is unbelievably vague – what “people”, what “agencies” beyond the local government, responsible for managing their water resources?

    Explicit provisions must be made that enable local watershed governance, whether it is on Crown Land or Private Land. Such a provision must take into consideration first and foremost, Environmental Flow Needs (EFN’S). In addition, funds must be provided by the Provincial Government to make it possible for Local Governance Boards to operate. Along with this, there must be enforcement rights given to a Local Governance structure. Currently and under your proposal, the preciseness necessary is entirely missing and currently the Provincial Government provides little if any enforcement of rules they may make. This must change if we are truly going to protect our water resources and the surrounding environs on which the sustainability of water relies.

    FITFIR must be removed.

    Groundwater! As a province, one of the very last in the country, the government has finally recognized that our groundwater (aquifers) must also be protected. However, the government is proposing to place groundwater under the FITFIR portion of an Act! Why would the government do this?

    The Water Act must make clear that there is no co modification of water.

    The government needs to take the responsibility to determine the capacity of our water resources.

    Water is the key to all life. Water underpins economic growth and community prosperity. Many other countries have enshrined explicit protections for environmental flows, rigorous water planning and promotion of conservation, improved governance more focused on citizen engagement in decision making at the watershed level, and an emphasis placed on accountability and effective oversight. Under this current proposal, we are far removed from achieving these objectives.

    In closing, these items are brief in nature, because of being allotted such a short timeline in which to respond.

    Sincerely,
    Marie Gaudreau

    User avatar
    [-] Kat Zimmer

    I am concerned about a number of things related to the proposed Water Sustainability Act.

    1. Water privatization: water in BC must be protected from the increasing corporate control that allows companies like Nestle to take millions of litres of water out of our waterways, without paying a cent and with little (if any) regulation, and make huge profits by selling it back to people as one-time consumption products. Transparency, public control, and independent oversight are absolutely necessary. Furthermore, this water act must protect against the possibility of bulk water exports to the US and other places that the public is unaware of and has not consented to.

    2. Integrity of freshwater ecosystems: This act must clearly protect waterways from the threat of damage from resource extraction. This includes damage to streambeds from siltation related to unsustainable forestry practices; spills from pipelines that are bound to happen; and toxic water contamination from dangerous fracking operations. The proposed provincial ‘water objectives’ must make protecting “environmental flows” for nature a priority, must be enforceable and apply to all sectors of industry. No exemptions for forestry or oil and gas, as contemplated in the proposal.

    3. Local watershed planning and management: It is an absolute disgrace that the Shawnigan Lake watershed has been chosen in secret as a toxic waste dumping site, with zero public consultation and no opportunity to have the decision repealed except through a lengthy and extremely expensive court battle which local citizens cannot afford. Communities must be given the information, resources, and decisionmaking power to take care of their own watersheds, and local and provincial governments must not be allowed to abuse their power in this regard.

    User avatar
    [-] Jaime Noddings

    I work for the Capital Regional District in the Water Quality Department. I am very familiar with water quality management and the challenges it faces. I believe we are at a critical point in the management of our water resources.

    I would like to see increased protection of our aquatic ecosystems and the species that occupy them. These aquatic ecosystems are currently facing many threats, but the single greatest among them is the oil and gas industry. The Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) boom we are currently experiencing will do irreparable damage to water quality.

    There are currently proposals for at least 3 LNG export terminals to be built on our coast by 2020. Fracking uses millions of litres of water per well. Over 7000 wells have been drilled in B.C since 2005, and each year more and more are being drilled. This process is disastrous for water quality.

    In addition to this, the proposed pipeline and tankers that will bring tar sand bitumen to our coast further threatens our water resources across the province.

    I am terrified of the consequences we will be faced with as a result of these proposals. They threaten our health, our homes, our livelihoods, everything B.C citizens value. The damage is irreversible, as we’ve seen in so many communities recently.

    I would like strictly enforced regulations in place that protect our water from contamination. I would like industrial practices to be strictly regulated and monitored to ensure they do not pose a risk to water quality. I would like for our government to use extreme caution and take no chances with our water quality, realizing that it is an absolutely critical and fragile resource. I would like the multi-barrier approach to exceed beyond individual watersheds, for management practices to acknowledge the interdependence of water systems and their relationship to land use practices.

    User avatar
    [-] Claire Boucher

    I was going to go on a tirade about the oil industry but this person basically just said everything I wish to express.

    Protecting our water should be a priority for this province and not only for the sake of the citizens but also in order to protect all the amazing wildlife that lives here

    User avatar
    [-] Sara Golling

    “PUBLIC TRUST”: IN the Legislative Proposal, it is stated that no mention of the public trust doctrine is made in the proposed Water Sustainability Act because it is an American doctrine and would give rise to uncertainty. Actually the concept of the public trust, or public ownership of commons, derives from the English common law, and it would comfort many of us to have our government explicitly acknowledge its duty to preserve critical resources, such as water, for the public good. It could be done without using the term “public trust” if that term pushes buttons.
    “GROUND-WATER/SURFACE WATER” — I submit that although the terms are useful to distinguish the location of water, they must not be used to obscure the fact that ALL water is part of only one water cycle, and that what is surface water today may be groundwater tomorrow. Both must be protected with equal rigour.
    ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH: BC must learn that environmental health is the primary requirement for economic health. Too much of our legislation is designed for the short-term benefit of industry (“economic growth”) at the expense of environmental health — and that expense is borne by the public at large, sometimes later and sometimes sooner. This is a foolish approach and we should change it immediately, to recognize that ONLY by preserving the health of our biosphere (we’re part of that!) can we maintain human health and economic strength. The new Water Act should make a healthy biosphere its highest priority. And all other BC legislation should also be amended as needed to reflect this reality, and the government’s duty to act in the greater public good.
    “ENVIRONMENTAL FLOW NEEDS” — the Legislative Proposal states that “the application of broad Environmental Flow Needs could potentially limit development and/or economic growth.” I submit that development and/or economic growth SHOULD be limited if they would deplete water resources so that environmental flow needs (EFNs) are not met. You have the priority wrong here, as noted above. Also — I submit that EFNs ought to be applied to limit usage of all current users, if necessary, no matter when their licences were obtained.
    “HUMAN NEEDS” — the Legislative Proposal states, “Society generally views human needs as more important than other uses.” I submit that this is no excuse to violate environmental integrity for what are often human “wants” rather than human “needs”.
    CUMULATIVE IMPACTS — must be not only considered but also accounted for and managed.
    OIL AND GAS ACTIVITIES ACT: The legislative Proposal states that this Act “contains appropriate provisions to protect water.” This is used as a reason for not mentioning the oil & gas industry in the Water Act. I read the provisions of the Oil and Gas Activities Act, and I do NOT agree that it contains “adequate” provisions to protect water. It states that various things must not be done, but leaves it open for those very things to be done is it “is not practicable” to avoid doing them. “Practicable” is a very loose term, and this is a very large loop-hole for many abusive practices to roar through. It makes it clear that the oil & gas industry is in the driver’s seat, and that if it doesn’t suit them to ensure that water is protected, then it won’t be protected. Similarly with the mining industry; look at the recent issues regarding using Fish Lake as a tailings pond. I don’t see that the new act would impose any more stringent requirements on the proponent. And that’s truly depressing.
    “ASSUMED” – deeper saline aquifers are “assumed” to be “disconnected” from upper, fresh-water aquifers. This is not a sound assumption and should be discarded. Use of saline aquifers should be permitted only if it has been soundly proven that there is an impervious layer completely isolating the one from the other … freshwater being lighter than saline, it would naturally be above the saline. And if a deep saline aquifer is drawn down, then freshwater could seep into it to replace the saline, which could lower the water table in the freshwater aquifer. Please re-think this.
    “CONSIDER” — there are many instances of the requirement to “consider” water, for instance in land-use planning. But “consider”, like “practicable”, is a loose term, and imposes no requirement to place the health needs of a water-way, for instance, above the wants of a developer. Our urban world is full of streams that have been buried in culverts; a decision-maker could very well “consider” a water-way and decide to bury it anyway. “Consider” is weasel language, and I would like to see it replaced with something that makes water conservation and aquatic and environmental health a clear priority.
    CLIMATE CHANGE and the differences already noticeable in weather events should be recognized with provisions that act to mitigate its effects. For example, current requirements for riparian zones are becoming inadequate to buffer streams from uphill damage from development and industry. Increase riparian set-backs in the Water Sustainability Act, and increase “leave strip” and riparian zone requirements in the legislation governing logging.
    STANDING FORESTS produce terpenes and also some dimethyl sulfide, which is thought to contribute not only to cloud formation but also to rainfall, so large tracts of forest are good news for water supply. Standing forests also act as a sponge to retain water instead of allowing it to run quickly off the land in flash floods — more good news for water supply. The bad news is that forestry is not only allowed but encouraged to cut more timber than is able to re-grow in any given period of time, and only a tiny fragment of our old-growth (or even old second-growth) forests remain to perform water generation and retention functions for us. Also, there is much that is now known about forest ecosystems, and how trees rely on symbiotic fungi (for example) in the soil, that logging practices still do not take into account, because the law does not recognize new science and enforces destructive practices based on the ignorance of a former era.
    LEGAL STANDING: Any person should have legal standing to challenge pollution or any acts that threaten the safety of water anywhere in BC — one should NOT have to prove that one is “directly affected” — because what damages any part of BC’s water resource is a threat to everyone.
    DECISION -MAKERS: Decisions regarding water use and the protection of water sources should be shared — users should all have a voice in the process, and those voices should include voices on behalf of the natural world — ecosystems, the biosphere, because if that goes down we will have nothing: no water, no food, no economy. Please be vigilant and think in the long-term good of society as a whole. Accept good science.
    DO NOT MAKE THE NEW WATER ACT A “DO-ANYTHING AT THE COST OF OUR ENVIRONMENT” LICENCE FOR INDUSTRIES (or anyone else). Because studies have shown that industry is actually stronger under good environmental regulation: See “Down the Drain” by Ralph Pentland and Chris Wood. There may be a down-turn in profitability within one year of stronger regulation, but it recovers after that and actually improves, along with the various other lives affected.
    ENFORCEABILITY: please use wording in the legislation that is clear enough to be enforceable. We need clarity and enforceability, otherwise why bother?

    User avatar
    [-] Lynne Hollett

    I have not read your proposals yet. Due to time constraints I will mention
    1. Water must be cool to deal with pathogens, keep fish alive, and create an optimum environment for itself. I therefore would like to see Watersheds on both sides of all creeks and rivers that allow water to be always cool. The trickle through the forest is cool, the trickle to the creek is cool and the trickle that is the creek or river is cool… big watersheds.
    2. The land must be cool to prevent water from running along the surface. To allow water to seep into the ground the land must be cooler, so I suggest that in every place where an aquifer is needed or created, the land and watershed that feeds it must be covered in forest… Big watersheds.
    3. Watersheds and the purity of water they provide are the most important part of the ecosystem. Water must be as pure as possible and this is the job of the watershed. Watersheds must be protected at all cost. Because of global warming and the ability of forests to purify and store water, call the rain, absorb CO2, vector winds and keep the land cool, the value of standing trees in a watershed and everywhere is probably higher than the value of any other ecosystem or product on Earth today. To recognize this and value the standing tree, the watershed and the purity of water is paramount for survival of humanity today… Big watersheds.
    These are my most important points.
    I do not believe in charging for water and would like to see the buying and selling of water made illegal. I would like to see all chemicals banned so that water is pure. And I would like to see ecosystems designed specifically for the purification of water, everywhere. Especially the cities. I would like to see all dams come down and solar or wind used for energy. But these are issues needing more discussion so I will be satisfied with this input. Water is alive.

    User avatar
    [-] Erica Pinsky

    I am very concerned about the increasing power of the corporations whose agenda is often increased profit whatever the cost to the environment or quality of living for ordinary citizens. BC has the opportunity to demonstrate that our provincial government really is committed to sustainability and protecting our environment for future generations.
    BC should follow the example recently sent in France and ban fracking. LNG is not a clean energy alternative and wastes vast quantities of water, which we all depend on to live.
    In addition, I would like to see the proposed act strengthened in the following areas:
    Protection of water flows for fish and other environmental values is too discretionary inthe WSA Proposal! “Environmental flows” need to be scientifically defined and it must be mandatory to meet them in all new and existing licences.
    •The WSA needs to explicitly state that any private rights to use water cannot harm the public’s interest in our precious water resources. As well, British Columbians will continue to reject attempts to create licences that could be traded in markets.
    •The proposed provincial ‘water objectives’ must make protecting “environmental flows” for nature a priority, must be enforceable and apply to all sectors of industry. No exemptions for forestry or oil and gas, as contemplated in the proposal.
    •In a climate changing world, 30 years between licence reviews is not sufficiently flexible; reviews should happen more frequently. As well, the new groundwater licences that are going to be granted to existing users, primarily large industrial users, must explicitly state they are subject to a future review until it can be determined the withdrawals are at sustainable levels and to allow for honourable government-to-government consultations with First Nations.
    •Water use fees must make public “cents”. Fee schedules for both groundwater and surface water must cover government’s costs for responsibly managing our water, and ensure resources are available for local watershed planning and management enabled under the new Act.
    •There need to be more opportunities for the public to participate in the granting of water licenses and the setting and monitoring of environmental flows. BC also needs independent oversight of water and watershed management with the resources and expertise to do it right.
    •The commitment to shared governance in local watersheds is a positive step, and it must ensure local watershed groups have a clear mandate and the resources to engage responsibly.

    User avatar
    [-] Greg Escott

    The First in Time, First in Right System of Rights Allocation, is in my opinion, one of the aspects of the Water Act in need of amending.

    “The Water Sustainability Act would provide decision-makers with the ability to make allowances for essential household use (including domestic animals and poultry), despite the priority of other licences.”
    What, exactly, would compel “decision makers” to make allowances and what, specifically, will guide them? The language used to summarize this important topic is vague and it does not paint a clear picture of what the intentions of the government actually are.

    An alternative and more modern approach outlined by POLIS can help address current water issues by including a detailed planning process at the watershed or basin basis in the Act to determine water usage and priority. This provides local solutions to local problems. Adjusting water use based on voluntary reductions, followed by mandatory sectoral reductions and a clear outline of which sectors have priority is the modern approach to take. It is not unreasonable to think that the government is capable of determining what should have a priority. If the government does not feel capable of this, why not ask the public for specific responses on what the priorities should be? I’m quite confident that they will have an informed opinion on this.

    The legislative proposal says that First in Time, First in Right is easy to understand and the ranking of uses “could be highly subjective”. This is ridiculous, and the following reasons for retaining this flawed approach are also ridiculous, illustrating that there has been very little meaningful consideration to changing this aspect for the new Act. It was said that retaining this was met with mixed reviews. No kidding. Perhaps it is a good idea to review this decision and present meaningful counterarguments instead of more vague language that does not actually say anything.

    The First in Time, First in Right System of Rights Allocation is an antiquated policy that does not necessarily benefit “human needs”. Further, it is an anthropocentric view that leaves the needs of ecosystems and the environment out of the picture. It should not be necessary to add a reminder that we also need healthy ecosystems for our survival, let alone the healthy enjoyment of life by other species we share this resource with.

    With the rare opportunity to implement water reform in British Columbia, retaining a component like “The First in Time, First in Right” is unacceptable. Water is a shared resource that we all depend on, including local ecosystems. A system that relies on seniority is a shame, given the rare opportunity to fix this aspect of water law in British Columbia and actually modernize our priorities.

    User avatar
    [-] K.L. Kivi

    I’m with Andrew Gage on the whole issue of beneficial use. Of benefit to who. Protecting the water for ecosystem functions and other species benefits us all. We are all beings of water, sharing the H2O molecules, and “environmental flows” needs to be defined not just scientically but through application of the precautionary priniciple and enforced. This must apply to all sectors of industry. No exemptions for forestry or oil and gas, as contemplated in the proposal. And no fracking! Ever.
    Also, the WSA needs to explicitly state that any private rights to use water cannot harm the public’s interest in our precious water resources. As well, it must not be traded in markets.
    For the groundwater licences that are going to be granted to large industrial users, they must be subject to future reviews to keep the withdrawals at sustainable levels and to allow for honourable government-to-government consultations with First Nations.
    This deadline for comment needs to be extended. If the public is truly going to participate, then there needs to be the opportunity to do it. We also need independent monitors of water and watershed management with the resources and expertise to do in accordance with agreements and the public’s input. The commitment to shared governance in local watersheds is a positive step, and it must ensure local watershed groups, like the Watershed Committee I’ve been involved in for over 15 years, have a clear mandate and the resources to engage responsibly.

    K.L.Kivi

    User avatar
    [-] Andrea

    Protection of water flows for fish and other environmental values is too discretionary in the WSA Proposal! “Environmental flows” need to be scientifically defined and it must be mandatory to meet them in all new and existing licences.
    The WSA needs to explicitly state that any private rights to use water cannot harm the public’s interest in our precious water resources. As well, British Columbians will continue to reject attempts to create licences that could be traded in markets.
    The proposed provincial ‘water objectives’ must make protecting “environmental flows” for nature a priority, must be enforceable and apply to all sectors of industry. No exemptions for forestry or oil and gas, as contemplated in the proposal.
    In a climate changing world, 30 years between licence reviews is not sufficiently flexible; reviews should happen more frequently. As well, the new groundwater licences that are going to be granted to existing users, primarily large industrial users, must explicitly state they are subject to a future review until it can be determined the withdrawals are at sustainable levels and to allow for honourable government-to-government consultations with First Nations.
    Water use fees must make public “cents”. Fee schedules for both groundwater and surface water must cover government’s costs for responsibly managing our water, and ensure resources are available for local watershed planning and management enabled under the new Act.
    There need to be more opportunities for the public to participate in the granting of water licenses and the setting and monitoring of environmental flows. BC also needs independent oversight of water and watershed management with the resources and expertise to do it right.
    The commitment to shared governance in local watersheds is a positive step, and it must ensure local watershed groups have a clear mandate and the resources to engage responsibly.

    User avatar
    [-] Al Walters

    Any changed water act must ensure that clean water for domestic use takes priority over all other claims. Particularly, industrial use must not be allowed to degrade, diminish, or in any way compromise the availability of water for domestic use in watersheds. If shortages of water resources occur for any reason (drought, climate change), domestic use must take priority. Needless to say, this means that the public must have a strong voice in decisions regarding water usage.

    Right after domestic use must come environmental uses. Stream flows sufficient to maintain ecological integrity must also be guaranteed.

    Other uses must come AFTER these in priority.

    User avatar
    [-] jenifer dawson

    My comments:

    First in Time First in Right should be abolished. All surface water allocations should be reviewed to assure that they are sustainable. Also the public should have priority over private and industrial allocations even if that potentially limits development and/or economic opportunities. Water should be part of the “commons”, a public trust managed for the public for eternity and not a commodity for business and industry to exploit.

    Water is too important a resource to let economic decisions trump environmental costs – water should be in the public trust – not in the hands of governments who may tend to favor big industries rather than the public good.

    Which brings up exempt industries, i.e. oil and gas and forestry. No exempt industries. I believe industry should pay their own share and the cost of water for private withdrawals should be much higher than the cost of water to the public. Also, if water is contaminated (as in fracking chemicals) the companies should pay enough money aside to manage or rehabilitate the contamination so that the public does not have to pay for management of contaminated sites or reclamation. Again, with the public trust of water the environment trumps economics every time because without water, nothing lives.

    Decision-Makers: Reminds me of a George Bush quote – “I am the Decider!”. That is not a good thing. Explicitly include local watershed governance participation in the list of decision makers under the Act;
    Approval of Water sustainability Plans be undertaken through local governance participation through an independent NON-POLITICAL process with transparent accountability;
    Enable local watershed governance arrangements sufficient resources to participate in research with water-use royalties or a delegated taxing authority.
    Public representation should be mandated and proceedings of committees be public, including environmental flow recommendations, setting of objectives, licence reviews and water efficiency standards. Public notice of applications, ability of the public to object prior to license issuance and appeal the granting of a license. Resources and ability to investigate water and watershed management issues, resources to measure and report water uses scientifically and the ability to levy steep fines for non-compliance with rules and heavy consequences for non payment of said fines.

    No turning lakes into tailing ponds.

    Independent oversight of water and watershed management with resources made available (from increased water fees, mainly on business) and scientific and first nation’s knowledge applied.

    So much more to discuss, so little time. Extend the deadline for comments

    Thank you,

    User avatar
    [-] Erin Enns

    In my childhood I spent a lot of my time playing outside enjoying all of what BC has to offer; vast forests teaming with wildlife, fresh water and beautiful landscapes. I never once thought about how my drinking water could become contaminated or that our well would run dry. I guess I took for granted what so many of us Canadians often take for granted: a country in which wildlife, nature and water is abundant. Over the past decade, I have traveled the world and experienced the drinking water status of other countries and I have noticed a reoccurring thought: I miss the water back home in Canada.

    We need to make sure that our water, the world’s next commodity, isn’t over-used or improperly used by Canadians or polluted for our future generations.

    User avatar
    [-] Todd Redding

    Thank you for the opportunity to comment. I hope that all comments are taken seriously.

    1. The concept and quantification of “Environmental flows” needs to be scientifically defined and it must be mandatory to meet them in all new and existing licences. As written currently is too discretionary.

    2. Private rights to use water cannot harm the public’s interest in our precious water resources.

    3. The proposed provincial ‘water objectives’ must make protecting “environmental flows” for nature a priority, must be enforceable and apply to all sectors of industry. No exemptions for forestry or oil and gas, as contemplated in the proposal. In addition, no exemptions for residential and urban development.

    4. Reviews of licenses must be more frequent than once in 30 yeras.

    5. All existing licenses, including groundwater, must be subject to future review.

    6. Pricing for industrial users should be in line with what consumers pay for water. Water use fees should be sufficient to cover the costs of running the water stewarship system and supporting local watershed planning & management committees.

    7. The public need to have opportunity to provide input in the granting/renewal of water licenses. There also needs to be an independent oversight authority to ensure water and watershed management are being done correctly. This body requires sufficient resources to ensure the expertise to do things right is available.

    8. Local watershed groups must have a clear mandate and the resources to engage responsibly.

    Regards.

    User avatar
    [-] Camille Dow Baker

    Dear Sir/ Madam,
    Thank you for the opportunity to comment on the new Water Sustainability Act proposed by the province of British Columbia.

    I strongly support the goal of the proposed Act, ‘to take steps to ensure our supply of fresh, clean water is sustainable- not just to meet our needs today, but for generations to come’ (1), and, I agree with the general directions you have proposed.

    I am also impressed with the clarity of the strategies and plans expressed in your proposal, and with the degree to which your proposal integrates the feedback of British Columbians.

    My two main suggestions are:
    1. Please consider extending the licensing program of ground water wells to include all ‘domestic’ water wells- including wells for household drinking water.
    2. In addition to the seven strategies expressed, please consider adding another strategy, ‘Make water knowledge common knowledge.’

    I believe that domestic water wells should be licensed because:
    • In order to have a complete picture of the use and current status of BC aquifers and their relationship with streams, lakes and other sources, it is also necessary to understand the distribution and usage of domestic ground water wells. “In the United States, more than 14% of the rural population supplied its own water for domestic use in 2005, chiefly from groundwater sources (USGS, 2009).” (2)
    • It provides the opportunity to create more societal cohesion on the issue of water stewardship since the onus of responsibility for water stewardship is not placed only on large scale or industrial users, but on each and every one of us.
    • It provides the opportunity to build the capacities of individuals to take care of themselves; to educate the public on issues like the relationship of water, sanitation and hygiene to health, and how best to treat their water and to dispose of their solid waste and waste water in order to protect their health.

    I believe that it is also necessary to specifically set out to make water knowledge common knowledge. Water connects us all. It is not just “our most important natural resource, without which there would be no life on earth (3); it is the universal solvent, and flows continually from place to place. All people need to act in order for society to respond to ‘the pressures of a growing population, a changing climate, and expanding development.(4) That action needs to be motivated and informed by adequate water knowledge and skills.

    Thank you once again for the opportunity to provide input into the development of the new BC Water Sustainability Act. It is much appreciated.
    Camille Dow Baker
    Resident, Clute Creek, Kootenay Lake, BC

    Member, Board of Directors, CAWST, Centre for Affordable Water and Sanitation Technology
    http://www.cawst.org

    References:
    (1), (3), (4): Pages. 2, 1, 2: A Water Sustainability Act for B.C., Legislative Proposal Overview, October 2013
    http://engage.gov.bc.ca/app/uploads/sites/71/2013/10/WSA_overview_web.pdf

    (2) Page 2, Self-supply as a complementary water services delivery model in Ethiopia. Water Alternatives 6(3): 405-423, http://www.water-alternatives.org Volume 6 | Issue 3 Butterworth, J.; Sutton, S. and Mekonta, L. 2013.
    http://www.water-alternatives.org/index.php?option=com_docman&task=doc_download&gid=225

    User avatar
    [-] Heather Hestler

    Water is the basis of life for humanity and the environment and must be protected at all costs. Please enact and legislate laws that manage and sustain our precious water resources. Particular attention must be paid to ensuring that public interests are not harmed by private rights to use water – and in this I particularly refer to ‘fracking’ that uses vast quantities of fresh water, contaminates it and leaves it stagnating in open pools – not good for man or beast ever after.
    Changes to the proposed ‘water objectives’ must clearly affirm in precise language and definition, that protecting ‘environmental flows’ is its top priority, that it will be enforceable and apply to all sectors of industry and will not exclude oil, gas or forestry industries. PERIOD.
    I want fresh water to be available not only for my grandchildren, their children, their children and on and on through the generations of life, but for all people and animals that live on this planet.
    You must take responsibility for changes that will directly affect all futures – and let it not put industry and big corporations ahead of the public weal.

    User avatar
    [-] Calvin Wrench

    First and foremost, ground and surface waters in British Columbia should be protected by the provincial government as a Public Trust. I would consider the following top priorities for the provincial government acting as Public Trustee:
    1- Protection of water flows for fish and other environmental values is too discretionary in the WSA Proposal! “Environmental flows” need to be scientifically defined and it must be mandatory to meet them in all new and existing licences.
    2-The WSA needs to explicitly state that any private rights to use water cannot harm the public’s interest in our precious water resources. As well, British Columbians will continue to reject attempts to create licences that could be traded in markets.
    3-The proposed provincial ‘water objectives’ must make protecting “environmental flows” for nature a priority, must be enforceable and apply to all sectors of industry. No exemptions for forestry or oil and gas, as contemplated in the proposal.
    4-In a climate changing world, 30 years between licence reviews is not sufficiently flexible; reviews should happen more frequently. As well, the new groundwater licences that are going to be granted to existing users, primarily large industrial users, must explicitly state they are subject to a future review until it can be determined the withdrawals are at sustainable levels and to allow for honourable government-to-government consultations with First Nations.
    5-Water use fees must make public “cents”. Fee schedules for both groundwater and surface water must cover government’s costs for responsibly managing our water, and ensure resources are available for local watershed planning and management enabled under the new Act.
    6-There need to be more opportunities for the public to participate in the granting of water licenses and the setting and monitoring of environmental flows. BC also needs independent oversight of water and watershed management with the resources and expertise to do it right.
    7-The commitment to shared governance in local watersheds is a positive step, and it must ensure local watershed groups have a clear mandate and the resources to engage responsibly.

    User avatar
    [-] Patrick Brown

    Please get the New WSA right

    BC desperately needs a new Water Act, but since it’s been more than 100 years since we brought in the last one, we need to make sure we take this opportunity to get the new one right! There are lots of good things that are proposed for the new Water Sustainability Act, such as bringing groundwater under regulation, charging for that water, and enabling new governance models that will allow local governments, First Nations and local stewardship groups to help develop plans for their own watersheds. BUT, there’s a lot of things that need to be done better in order to bring BC’s water policy into the 21st century.

    Priority areas for improvement:
    •Protection of water flows for fish and other environmental values is too discretionary in the WSA Proposal! “Environmental flows” need to be scientifically defined and it must be mandatory to meet them in all new and existing licences.
    •The WSA needs to explicitly state that any private rights to use water cannot harm the public’s interest in our precious water resources. As well, British Columbians will continue to reject attempts to create licences that could be traded in markets.
    •The proposed provincial ‘water objectives’ must make protecting “environmental flows” for nature a priority, must be enforceable and apply to all sectors of industry. No exemptions for forestry or oil and gas, as contemplated in the proposal.
    •In a climate changing world, 30 years between licence reviews is not sufficiently flexible; reviews should happen more frequently. As well, the new groundwater licences that are going to be granted to existing users, primarily large industrial users, must explicitly state they are subject to a future review until it can be determined the withdrawals are at sustainable levels and to allow for honourable government-to-government consultations with First Nations.
    •Water use fees must make public “cents”. Fee schedules for both groundwater and surface water must cover government’s costs for responsibly managing our water, and ensure resources are available for local watershed planning and management enabled under the new Act.
    •There need to be more opportunities for the public to participate in the granting of water licenses and the setting and monitoring of environmental flows. BC also needs independent oversight of water and watershed management with the resources and expertise to do it right.
    •The commitment to shared governance in local watersheds is a positive step, and it must ensure local watershed groups have a clear mandate and the resources to engage responsibly.

    User avatar
    [-] Kim Fisher

    The proposed provincial ‘water objectives’ must make protecting “environmental flows” for nature a priority, must be enforceable and apply to all sectors of industry. No exemptions for forestry or oil and gas, as contemplated in the proposal.

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