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BC Water Act Modernization

Watershed Watch strives to raise public awareness about water law and policy and to improve the protection of fish and aquatic habitat. Because of the lack of consideration for fish and habitat in BC's current Water Act, Watershed Watch believes that BC's main water law is in need of a major overhaul and has been providing input into Living Water Smart's Water Act Modernization Process. The BC Ministry of Environment recently released the WAM Report on Engagement that includes a quote from Watershed Watch (page 43) recommending the allocation of water for fish, building on the in stream flow needs developed during the Water Use Planning Process, in a revised Water Act. We have been involved for 11 years in providing advice on instream flows for fish (water use planning, etc.), and recently completed on Brief on modernizing the BC Water Act and collaborated on a Statement of Expectations of BC NGOs for Reform of the Water Act endorsed by 29 NGOs, which contains key actions for improvement. For more information on Watershed Watch's recommendations to the province see the reports below.

Watershed Watch also contributed the blog posting Watershed Watch Advocates for Clear Standards for Environmental Flows in WAM Process to the website www.OurWaterBC.ca. This website includes a petition where you can add your voice to the call for improved water management in BC.

***New*** The Province of British Columbia's December 17, 2010 media release Public Invited to Comment on Water Act Modernization announces a second opportunity for the public to provide comment on revisions to BC's Water Act. See the release for details on how to get involved.

Public support for water protection is overwhelming. This was clearly shown in a recent poll of 835 British Columbians conducted by McAllister Opinion Research. Watershed Watch was one of the groups that initiated the poll. For more information see Watershed Watch's media release and the summary report below.


Groundwater is an important and often essential part of wild salmon habitat. Yet, groundwater use is almost entirely unregulated in British Columbia, groundwater management rarely considers wild salmon, and British Columbia's water policy focuses mainly on surface water. Thanks to support from the Walter and Duncan Gordon Foundation, Fraser Salmon and Watersheds Program and the Bullitt Foundation, Watershed Watch has produced the following reports to increase awareness of the importance of groundwater to wild salmon:

Red Fish Up the River: Restoring Coquitlam River Sockeye (and other salmon)

Salmon need healthy rivers to thrive and survive. Rivers cannot be healthy without intact habitat, free passage, and adequate flows of clean water. A five-year cooperative effort with BC Hydro Corporation has produced a promise of more water and millions of dollars for wild salmon. Watershed Watch continues to help direct a $2 million BC Hydro initiative aimed at restoring extinct sockeye salmon to the Coquitlam River and continues to work with First Nations on water flow and other environmental issues. Incidentally, Coquitlam literally means "Red Fish Up the River", and upriver migrating sockeye have long been known as red fish, or red salmon--in recognition of their prespawning colour.

See Watershed Watch's report Preliminary Review of Fisheries Conservation Gains within BC Hydro's Water Use Planning Process for more information on the WUP and what it means for salmon conservation in the Coquitlam River and other systems.

Watershed Watch works as a science advisor to the Kwikwetlem First Nation in their efforts to restore the Coquitlam River. A new website by Metro Vancouver, Working together for Coquitlam Watershed and Kwikwetlem Sockeye, contains video links from a June 16, 2010 community meeting at the Poirier Community Centre in Coquitlam including presentations by representatives from Kwikwetlem First Nation (KFN), Kwikwetlem Salmon Restoration Program (KSRP), BC Hydro and Metro Vancouver, and Watershed Watch Executive Director, Craig Orr as well as poster board displays and copies of the presentations by the designated speakers. Also included are links to other resources, such as media releases, web sites, and contact information that provide more information on efforts to restore the Coquitlam River and Coquitlam sockeye.

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