West Coast is not the only one blogging as a way to discuss environmental law. The BC government has launched its LivingWaterSmart blog as a key tool for consulting on the development of a new Water Act.
The current Water Act was originally created over a century ago, and, despite some tinkering in the 1990s, it clearly does not deal well with the environmental needs of 2010. For example, the current Act:
- does not guarantee a flow of water for fish, wildlife or environmental features; human users can literally drain rivers without any requirement to consider their environmental impacts.
- gives priority to the earliest water licenses when there’s not enough water to go around, rather than prioritizing drinking water or requiring everyone to use less water.
- does not regulate the taking of groundwater – not even when wells are draining aquifers or compromising the flow of surface water.
No one would dispute that an overhaul is in order, but it’s important that the new Act protect environmental resources and deal with difficult issues like protecting fisheries on rivers that have been over-allocated. The modernization of the Water Act could be a great environmental win, or a waste of time, depending on the outcome. That’s why West Coast, along with 28 other environmental groups, has sent the province a “Statement of Expectations” setting out our bottom line for what we hope to see in the new Water Act. We hope that you’ll participate in the province’s consultations and join us in pressing for a Water Act that protects the environment. Visit the LivingWaterSmart blog to stay current with the province’s plans and to find out how you can provide your input on this important legislative reform.