|How to Establish a Watershed Authority in BC
The ELC recently made public a report prepared for the Okanagan Basin Water Board that explores the legal basis for establishing watershed authorities with an eye to potential local entities in the future of BC water management.
Legal Basis for Enabling Watershed Authorities in BC
examines three of the “best practice” case studies featured in the 2014 report. The report looks at how the watershed authorities were enabled in the three cases studies, their source of powers and funding, and legislative mechanisms that helped to lead to their establishment. The case studies are of Regional Councils in New Zealand, the Murray-Darling Basin Authority in Australia, and Conservation Authorities in Ontario.
Intentionally left out of the report is how Indigenous communities in each of the case study areas interact and are involved with the watershed management entity. Due to the watershed-specific complexities of Indigenous relations in all three case study areas, the report does not address the underlying Aboriginal rights and title to water held by the Indigenous communities in each region. It is important to note, however, that the case studies do offer instructive ideas for how to create collaborative water governance structures that give substance to Aboriginal water rights, and to incorporate traditional knowledge into water management practices. The report recommends that the next step in the process of considering empowering watershed authorities in British Columbia, perhaps through a Watershed Authority Act
, is to further explore how such a structure could ensure the expression of Aboriginal rights to water and collaboratively govern with Indigenous communities.
Link to report: Legal Basis for Enabling Watershed Authorities in BC