Watersheds BC is a partnership initiative that empowers local leaders to secure a sustainable future for their watersheds and the communities that depend on them.
Why Local Watershed Security Matters
The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed challenges with the resilience of our public health systems globally. As we plan for a post-COVID future, it is critical that we ensure other vulnerable systems are fortified to manage and avoid future crises.
Our freshwater systems, or ‘watersheds’ are one of these vulnerable systems. The impacts of floods, droughts, cumulative development pressures, and competing water uses are undermining the economic, ecological and social resilience of communities across the province.
In response to these challenges, First Nations, local governments and community organizations are taking leadership in safeguarding their local watersheds and the remarkable rivers, lakes and aquifers that are the life-giving arteries for supernatural BC.
Launched in early 2020, Watersheds BC works collaboratively with community leaders to equip them with the knowledge and skills to solve problems in their home waters. These local leaders include First Nations, local government staff, watershed boards and roundtables, regional provincial staff, and other community champions.
Watersheds BC is a partnership initiative founded by the BC Freshwater Legacy Initiative, First Nations Fisheries Council, POLIS Project on Ecological Governance and the Centre for Indigenous Environmental Resources. Based on research and experience, these organizations identified the need for a dedicated resource centre to provide local leaders with tools and support to implement best practices for watershed management and governance.
Watersheds BC's Approach
Watersheds BC is founded on the belief that securing the resilience of our watersheds requires new approaches to watershed management and governance that are grounded in community values and local and Indigenous knowledge.
Based on over a decade of research by our founding partners, Watersheds BC has identified several key elements of effective watershed management and governance systems in BC.
Watersheds BC provides a range of tools, resources and peer-to-peer support to respond to these needs and strengthen community capacity to implement best management and governance practices.
Opportunities for Economic Stimulus in BC Watersheds
As governments across Canada review their options to kick-start economic recovery, they have an opportunity to make public investments that not only put people back to work, but also help to strengthen local capacity to overcome and prosper in the face of other near-term threats to public safety and security.
Watersheds BC is working with a number of partners to highlight to the provincial government the benefits of investing in watershed resilience through the creation of a BC Watershed Security Fund. Such a Fund would provide both short-term economic stimulus and longer-term sustainable funding for local watershed security.
To support this effort, Watersheds BC is identifying a broad range of tangible local projects that will generate employment, support economic stimulus and build community resilience. Through our networks, we are reaching out to local governments, First Nations, community organizations, farmers, businesses and other watershed leaders.
This work builds on research and pilot projects undertaken by the Sustainable Funding for Watershed Governance Initiative, which identified the need for a diversity of funding sources to underpin watershed security. This research also identified a critical gap and need for the Province to dedicate funding support to local watershed management and partnerships.
In September 2020, the Province of BC announced a $27 million investment in watershed initiatives and wetland projects across the province. This investment will be delivered through the Healthy Watersheds Initiative - a partnership to support British Columbia’s economic recovery through investments in community-driven watershed conservation and restoration projects.
It is anticipated that approximately sixty watershed projects will be supported in communities around the province. The confirmed group of watershed projects to be funded has been technically reviewed by the Province and assessed for success in meeting the Province’s economic and environmental goals.
This initiative will improve the health of watersheds, create economic and skills development opportunities, generate new learning, and strengthen relationships with First Nations and Indigenous-led organizations in ways that support the implementation reconciliation.
The Real Estate Foundation of BC, in partnership with Watersheds BC, has been asked by the Province to support the implementation of the Initiative including: administering agreements and funding, supporting learning and evaluation, and facilitating collaboration between the Province, First Nations, watershed organizations and community partners.
Our Program Areas
Watersheds BC delivers capacity-building to support local leaders on key elements necessary for successful local watershed management and governance.
GET IN TOUCH
The Watersheds BC website is under development at watershedsbc.ca. In the meantime, feel free to reach out to Zita Botelho, Program Director, at