Living Lakes Canada is celebrating the BC Government’s decision to invest a historic $100 million into safeguarding the province’s watersheds. This unprecedented investment, announced as part of Budget 2023, will go towards the establishment of a long-term Watershed Security Fund that will be co-managed by B.C. First Nations and support communities to increase their adaptation options in anticipation of continuing climate change impacts.
“Living Lakes Canada applauds the provincial government for taking this concrete step forward in watershed protection for the province,” said Kat Hartwig, Executive Director of Living Lakes Canada. “As a steering committee member of the Watershed Security Coalition and long-time advocate of a watershed security strategy and fund for the Province of BC, we are pleased to see these concepts become a reality with B.C. First Nations at the forefront of this paradigm-shifting approach to watershed management.”
The funding announcement formalizes the role of a new B.C.-First Nations Water Table in the co-management of the Watershed Security Fund and the further co-development of a Watershed Security Strategy. The B.C.-First Nations Water Table (BCFNWT) is made up of representatives from the Province and delegates from First Nations in B.C.
Coree Tull, co-chair of the Watershed Security Coalition, said, “We are encouraged to see the Province taking real leadership on watershed security with this initial kick-start to the BC Watershed Security Fund.” She noted that decades of degradation in watersheds are putting the health and security of communities at risk. “The climate crisis is a water crisis. Immediate action and funding are needed to make our communities stronger and more resilient to the impacts of floods, fires and droughts.”
This latest announcement builds on the Province’s previous commitments towards the establishment of a Watershed Security Fund for B.C. — the Healthy Watersheds Initiative in 2021 and the subsequent Provincial investment in watersheds in 2022.
A funding recipient of these commitments, Living Lakes Canada is coordinating a unified water monitoring network across the Canadian Columbia Basin to collect data on climate impacts to inform source water protection in watershed management. The Columbia Basin Water Monitoring Framework project is working with Indigenous and non-Indigenous governments and community groups interested in securing the health of their local watersheds by incorporating community concerns and priorities around water within a scientific water balance approach. This innovative framework is being developed as a template that can be implemented in other regions to track climate impacts on water.
British Columbians are invited to comment on a new Intentions Paper that outlines the Watershed Security Strategy and Fund, and potential actions to improve watershed health, such as strengthening existing water data and the tools used to monitor water demand and supply. Comments will be accepted until April 17. Visit https://engage.gov.bc.ca/watershedsecurity.
Learn more about the Columbia Basin Water Monitoring Framework.
The Watershed Security Coalition is a non-partisan, diverse coalition of 48 organizations representing 255,000 British Columbians. Learn more here.