The Sustainable Watershed Balancing Act

Guest Blog, by Kim Green, Watershed Geoscientist, Apex Geoscience

The term ‘sustainable watershed management’ is being thrown around quite a bit these days and seems to meanKimGreen different things to different people with different points of view. As a watershed geoscientist who has studied watersheds of the Columbia and Rocky Mountains for the past 20 years I have gained some insight regarding how watersheds work and for me, the term ‘sustainable watershed management’ implies the preservation of the key underlying physical processes in a watershed that govern water and sediment transport. Read More

Watershed Management and Planning

How are decisions made that affect watersheds?

Who is involved in watershed management and planning?

How do we ensure that the decision-makers in our watershed are working together?

The answers to these questions depend on the watershed – how big is it, whether the main governmental agencies responsible for land use in a watershed are municipal, provincial, or a mix, and on the scale of industrial and resource uses. For example, the Columbia Basin watersheds are all affected by the Columbia River Treaty, and the decisions made by the parties as the Columbia River is managed for water storage and hydro-electric production. Our larger urban centres are typically located in broad valleys that have significant private lands, with municipal governments important in significant parts of the watershed, although typically provincial jurisdiction over headwaters. Some of our larger lakes are subject to some municipal planning as well as federal, with provincial interest in habitat conservation. Many of our smaller communities and settlements have municipal governments, but are dependent on watersheds that are owned by the Province of BC, and subject to the planning processes in place for industries active in the watershed.

Our First Nations have a governance right to any unceded lands. In the Columbia Basin, the Ktunaxa and the Okanagan Nation (Syilx) have unceded interests in the lands that include participation in decision-making.

With the coming in to force of the Water Sustainability Act, there is considerable discussion of how watershed decision-making might change.

We are currently assembling useful resources for watershed groups and citizens interested in improved decision-making, or in learning how to participate effectively in watershed planning.