By Published On: June 21, 2019

Handbook for Water Champions

Here’s a great read on how many communities in British Columbia are embracing a watershed approach to water management, focused on collaboration and partnerships for managing the various and divergent needs of a limited and precious resource.

Handbook for Water Champions: Strengthening Decision-Making and Collaboration for Healthy Watersheds

Learning about how another country is approaching collaboration and partnerships can help advise our work in the Intermountain West. The handbook provides great insight into the seven stepping stones to watershed governance, check out the abstract here:

Executive Summary: Fresh water shapes British Columbia’s landscapes, communities and economies. But this most precious natural resource faces an increasingly uncertain future: with shifting climate and hydrology, and intense cumulative pressures, British Columbia is entering an era of water insecurity. There is growing recognition that the status quo for managing and governing water must change to reflect these new realities. In response, local groups and governments are organizing themselves to take on leading roles in water decision-making and management. In some places, these groups are embracing a collaborative or co-governance approach, learning how Indigenous and non-Indigenous neighbors can work shoulder-to-shoulder to protect water and ensure it is fairly managed.

In other places, Indigenous nations are convening and driving new water plans and governance processes, and looking at how partnerships can support their progress. Elsewhere, local governments are stepping up, and exploring what kinds of new water initiatives and partnerships they can lead within their scope of responsibility. Local water leaders realize that they cannot wait for someone else to figure out how to take care of their waters. They recognize that provincial and federal water responsibilities and resources remain critical, but that local leadership is needed to achieve locally-appropriate solutions. It’s no surprise that many of these groups are adopting a holistic “thinking-like-a-watershed” approach, rather than confining water to silos, such as drinking water, wastewater, water for fish, or water for irrigation.

This watershed governance approach involves recognizing the downstream-upstream relationships in watersheds, giving appropriate consideration to how activities on the land impact water, and ensuring that all human and ecological rights, values, and interests are properly considered and involved in decision-making processes.