Quick access to information based on government’s structure

  • Water Stewardship Division
  • Ministry of Environment
  • Ministry of Community, Sport and Cultural Development
  • B.C. Government Directory
  • Ministries and Organizations
  • Other Levels of Government

Progress on Living Water Smart Actions

Living Water Smart actions and targets have seen a lot of progress since the plan was released.

Below are some of the highlights.  Further action by British Columbians outside of government is profiled on the Your Stories page. In addition, many of the commitments will be delivered or strengthened through the proposed Water Sustainability Act, now planned for introduction in spring 2014.

Doing Business Differently

  • Development of a Water Science Strategy, which will focus on ways to share research information to advance water science in B.C., is underway.
  • The Ministry of Environment is leading the development of a new water-related indicators starting with groundwater quantity. These indicators will be available through Environment Reporting BC. Drought response management workshops led to the development of a BC Drought Response Plan that was implemented in 2010. The Response Plan will be periodically reviewed and updated based on experiences and input from stakeholders. The proposed Water Sustainability Act includes measures to manage water resources in times of scarcity and will inform the Drought Response Plan.
  • Updated the Dealing with Drought Handbook for Water Suppliers Handbook to assist local water suppliers in dealing with drought management and water conservation planning.
  • The province supported the development of the Water Balance Model to promote rainwater management and integrate planning and engineering to achieve sustainability objectives and minimize impacts on water.
  • Planning guidance is being designed to support those interested in developing source water protection plans. Electronic data for drinking water capture zones has been incorporated into government’s open data management system.
  • Provincial Drinking Water Officers continue to work with water suppliers to complete a Drinking Water Source to Tap Assessment as required and/or requested.
  • MOE has initiated development of an Environmental Mitigation Policy. The intent of the policy is to avoid, minimize, and/or offset environmental impacts associated with developments and activities on Crown land. It is currently being piloted.
  • Government now requires an endorsed water demand management plan before local government can apply for water related infrastructure funding. 
  • Through the Ministry of Education and Living Water Smart, government supported development of the BC Green Games – a digital competition to inspire environmental action in schools. This annual competition has been running since 2008.
  • The Living Water Smart implementation team produced a self-guided Home Water Assessment to assess residential water use and behaviour. The Home Water Assessment was included with LiveSmart BC’s home energy assessment, which was undertaken in 40,000 homes. Many British Columbians have shared their stories and ideas about reducing water use in their homes.
  • New design standards are being developed for buildings in flood prone areas due to sea level rise.
  • Since inception, the Flood Protection Program has committed to 138 projects with worth a total project cost of $127 million.  The provincial commitment to date is nearly $55 million. 

Modernizing Our Water Laws

  • The proposed Water Sustainability Act will update and replace the existing Water Act, respond to current and future pressures on water, and position B.C. as a leader in water stewardship.
  • Government continues to refine the legislative proposals, seek to better understand sector concerns, and work out the details of implementing the proposed Water Sustainability Act.
  • Further engagement on the proposed new Act is anticipated for fall 2013.
  • With the complexity of this legislation and the widespread implications, introduction of the proposed Water Sustainability Act into the Legislature is planned for 2014.

Water for Agriculture

  • The Agricultural Water Demand Model is now operational for the Okanagan Basin, Cowichan, Nanaimo, North Thompson, Nicola, Kettle, Similkameen and Metro Vancouver. By the end of 2013 Comox, Lillooet, Pemberton, Bonaparte, East Kootenays and the Fraser Valley Regional District will be added.
  • The Irrigation Scheduling Calculator is now operational and helping irrigators apply the right amount of water to their crops. The calculator provides users with an irrigation schedule using real time climate data and will help irrigators to be more water efficient. It works for both agricultural and landscaping irrigation systems. Government support continues for the delivery of irrigation Industry Association of BC Certified Irrigation Designer and Certified Irrigation Technician Programs.
  • Further work on government’s commitment to secure water for agricultural lands will be advanced through the proposed Water Sustainability Act.

Becoming More Water Efficient in B.C.

Living Water Smart outlines two important targets for water efficiency: by 2020 water use in B.C. will be 33% more efficient and 50% of new municipal demand will be met by conservation. The following actions have helped move us towards achieving these targets:

  • In October 2011, the BC Ministry of Environment became a Promotional Partner of the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) WaterSense Program. Similar to the Energy Star labelling program for energy consumption, WaterSense labels can be placed on products that have been independently certified as meeting EPA water efficiency and performance criteria.
  • Effective October 3, 2011, the BC Building Code regulation requires the installation of high-efficiency toilets and urinals in all new residential buildings and renovation projects involving toilet replacements in British Columbia.
  • The 2012 BC Codes includes new provisions to enable non-potable water use for certain plumbing fixtures and underground irrigation systems.
  • Local governments now have a variety of tools to help them reduce GHG emissions, conserve water and energy, and work towards creating more compact, complete, and sustainable communities.  Bill 27 (Green Communities) provided the legislative amendments needed to achieve this.
  • Government provided guidance to those who plan, design, and fund infrastructure to encourage the uptake of new technologies that find ways to turn our waste into resources. Government also hosted a series of workshops on water reclamation and reuse across the province. 
  • A new Water Conservation Calculator illustrates how specific water conservation measures can help save water and money. Water purveyors can use the tool to assist in presenting their conservation case to local government and other decision makers. Water Demand Management Planning guidance has been developed through the Ministry of Community, Sport and Cultural Development.
  • A high level Collaborative Watershed Governance Accord has been developed to set out basic principles that encourage collaboration among those responsible for managing water in BC. The accord has been endorsed by a range of stakeholders and the province is also considering endorsing the accord.
  • Local governments are also supporting implementation of Living Water Smart through initiatives delivered through the Partnership for Water Sustainability in British Columbia.

Protecting Nature's Needs

  • Government supports ongoing efforts to protect and restore stream function through the Living Rivers Trust Fund. Both the Okanagan River Restoration Initiative and the Tsolum River Restoration project are underway to restore ecological health to these areas.
  • Government and several non-governmental organizations have formed the Wetland Stewardship Partnership (WSP) to collaborate on wetland protection. The Wetland Stewardship Partnership released Wetland Ways: Interim Guidelines for Wetland Protection and Conservation in British Columbia. The draft guidelines and best practices promote best management practices for wetlands. The guidelines have been piloted tested by user groups and will be updated in 2013-2014 based on the feedback received.

Protecting Our Groundwater

  • Under the proposed Water Sustainability Act, groundwater extraction and use would be regulated in problem areas and for all large groundwater users including existing and new and large groundwater and surface licensees would be required to measure and report on actual water use.
  • Implementation of Phase 2 of the Groundwater Protection Regulation which further regulates well drilling, pump installation, groundwater protection, and alteration and closure of wells is proposed under the Water Sustainability Act.
  • Government offers infrastructure funding to local governments wishing to extend their water services to areas served by wells. In order to be eligible for the funding, local governments must adopt a well closure bylaw, requiring all property owners to close their private wells within 90 days of their property connecting to local government water services.

To learn more about what other British Columbians are doing to live water smart see Your Stories.