What a week for water!

This year, the big story for Canada’s Water Week has to be BC’s new Water Sustainability Act, introduced last week to BC’s Legislature by Minister of Environment, Mary Polak. This new act represents a decade or more of effort from those within and outside of the provincial government. Those at the Water Stewardship Division, WWF, Watershed Watch Salmon Society, Organizing for Change, The Polis Project,  West Coast Environmental Law, the Freshwater Alliance, The Rivers Institute, and countless other water groups have delivered a once in a century gift to our salmon, our wetlands, our groundwater and our rivers with the new Water Sustainability Act. All of our water issues won’t go away under the new law but it does contain a number of tools that will help keep water in rivers for species like salmon and tailed frogs.

Close up of a Sockeye salmon (Oncorhynchus nerka) caught in the rapids as it is returning to spawn in the lower Adams River, British Columbia, Canada © Andrew S. Wright / WWF-Canada

Fishermen and indeed salmon lovers of all stripes should be celebrating this new act. This good news comes at a time when a number of other policy changes such as the changes to the Fisheries Act seem to be to the detriment of the fish we all care so much about. If you don’t get why the water act is so important to fish check out this short video to find out some cool facts about why our salmon need healthy river flow to survive.

The Water Sustainability Act promises that “the decision maker must consider the environmental flow needs of a stream in deciding an application.” In other words, if the Water Sustainability Act is made law, for the first time in BC, the water needs of nature must be considered in all new applications for water licenses.
From Canada’s iconic beaver to the fascinating coastal tailed frog, all our aquatic species will benefit from the protection of healthy river flow in this new act.  The coastal- tailed frog has been able to thrive for many millennia in the cold, clear, mountain streams of coastal BC. By protecting these streams, the new act will have a ripple effect to help protect this remarkably ancient species.
Likewise, the busy beaver stands to gain from the new water law. Beavers may be able to hold back water with their dams, but they like all other species in BC, have evolved to make the most of the natural water cycle. Keeping water flowing through the natural cycle is sure to be a boon for our beavers.  To learn more, visit our new page describing the linkages between flow and wildlife.
Ultimately the big winner is all of us –  British Columbians! We now have new water law that better regulates the one resource considered a priority by 94% of British Columbians.  B.C.’s new Water Sustainability Act will help us make the changes in behavior we need to safeguard nature’s share of water for salmon, beavers, frogs and other species. Now that’s worth celebrating!  And boy is BC celebrating. To find an Water Week event close to favourite swimming hole, checkout the BC portion of the Water Week website.