When British Columbia’s new Water Sustainability Act (WSA) – and supporting regulations – came into force on February 29, 2016 it marked an important step in the modernization of provincial water law.

Many of the historic principles of water management in British Columbia were established in the Water Act of 1909. This legislation evolved over the course of the 20th century through a series of amendments. It became increasingly clear, however, that a major update would be needed to address the new challenges of the 21st century, including climate change, population growth and increasing pressure on water resources as well as new technologies and resource activities, and greater concern about aquatic ecosystems.

In 2008, government announced – with the release of Living Water Smart: B.C.’s Water Planits commitment to change the way water is governed and managed in B.C.

In 2009 government launched a major policy initiative – the process to update the historic Water Act and related water management policies. Engagement with British Columbians is an important component of this initiative.