Internationally we can expect water to be at the root of growing strife and conflict. The terrible events in Paris can be traced back to water shortages in Western Asia years before. Ecological failure quickly becomes immense societal pressure and even, as in Syria, collapse.
In the long run and at every scale--international to local--the best tools we have to choose the outcomes we want are knowledge and good governance, applied to meet the needs of all people. That means supporting the ecology within which people's needs are met, not as an afterthought but as a core part of building and maintaining prosperity. A non-anthropocentric model, or an anthropocentrism that recognizes our reliance on complete systems, turns out in the long run to be the best for human well-being.
A new report “Awash with Opportunity: Ensuring the Sustainability of B.C.’s New Water Law” from the University of Victoria’s POLIS Water Sustainability Project makes clear the opportunity before us with BC's new Water Sustainability Act, and the work we need to do to ensure that we continue to enjoy the dividends of our shared water wealth.
"If British Columbia does not change its approach to freshwater management to respond to these realities, the consequences may be severe, as demonstrated by the experiences in Washington and California—and globally. British Columbia is fortunate not to be facing the level of water crisis unfolding in the western United States; indeed, it is unlikely that in the near term it would face a province-wide drought at the scale of California’s current state-wide emergency. However, the California situation may be an early warning, foreshadowing a possible future for certain regions of the province. British Columbia has the opportunity to learn from what is happening south of its border and to accelerate B.C.-specific programs to proactively address freshwater management."
That change in freshwater management has always been at the foundation of WaterWealth's work. We started in 2013 with calls for Water Act modernization, connected the public to the consultation process for the legislative proposal later that year and to the pricing consultation in 2014, and most recently in partnership with SumOfUs secured a commitment from government to review the rates charged under the Water Sustainability Act to ensure funding is adequate for robust water management in BC--at the same time allaying a public and media misconception around Water Sustainability Act fees and trade agreements. Our work to see sustainability remain integral to the Water Sustainability Act is far from over as regulations for the Water Sustainability Act will continue to be rolled out over the next 2-3 years.
While water rental rates charged by government are critical, there are other key components of the Water Sustainability Act that also need public engagement to see them implemented in the best way possible. We invite you to read the POLIS report to learn more. It's been over a hundred years since BC's old Water Act was implemented. We look forward to working together with all of our allies and supporters to ensure that BC's new water law is the best that it can be for the next hundred years.