Watershed Authorities Act – a Legislative Guide

With the environment not respecting political boundaries, there are existing guides for watershed management entities and recommendations for what activities they should undertake. A new ELC report fills a gap as to the “how” to create watershed entities and details how to become a watershed management entity in the first place. Due for release this summer, the report looks at examples from New Zealand, Australia and Ontario, and provides background information what we hope will be a Watershed Authorities Act in BC in support of local water management decision.  With BC’s first water sustainability plan set to launch in the Nicola Valley, we hope the report will be helpful to determine how communities can govern water.

Dr. Anna Warwick Sears, Executive Director of the Okanagan Basin Water Board, commended the project: “It’s great to see the ELC working on this. BC needs a Watershed Authorities Act. Current laws don’t have the power and flexibility we need to bring effective watershed governance to all watersheds in BC.”

The student who worked on this report with Deborah Curran provided the following thoughts:

Water is an essential element for life. Blue gold, they call it. So valuable that wars will be fought over access to it. But what do you really know about water resources and how they are managed?


In Canada, we see water all around us, and still rarely wonder further about the valuable resource that is so abundant in our country. Yet, with a growing population that stresses our water resources in new and challenging ways, Canada’s water resources have never been in a more vulnerable position. It is time we took greater interest in learning more about this essential resource, and how it should be effectively managed in order to ensure the successes of current and future generations.


This report intends begin a conversation on just that; structured to be a comparative piece between case study areas, this report delves into the complexities surrounding how organizations that govern water resources from around the world are formed and function. The categories explored include how entities are funded, how they are structured internally, and how they interact with the broader government structure. By learning from structural frameworks and successes of others, Watershed Authorities in British Columbia have the potential to be strong, effective entities, which could become the leading example for the rest of Canada, and even the rest of the world.