From BC Guide to Watershed Law & Planning
Participating in Watershed Protection
Great flowing rivers form part of the identity of British Columbia. Streams and Rivers supply clean drinking water to many communities, and Lakes and Oceans are home to fish and a source or recreation and enjoyment. And yet our rivers and streams face problems. Pollution from industry or other sources, silt from development, and run-off from agriculture can all make their ways into waterways as well.
The word “watershed“ refers to the entire area of land that flows into a stream or river. Rain falling on any part of a watershed will slowly make its way down into streams, and then into rivers, until it flows to the sea. Development anywhere in a watershed can have an impact on the water that flows through it. But it doesn’t need to if it’s done right.
That’s where good planning comes in. By identifying desirable goals and outcomes, and ensuring that steps are taken towards those goals, planning can help society run more smoothly. Watershed planning refers to planning for the competing interests and goals that may be present in one watershed.
Also important are the laws that inform planning processes. Some require that planning be done, others can be used to make a plan legally enforceable and others set out the ground rules for what can and can’t be done in development (and therefore in planning). While information about specific laws can be found throughout this website, it can be useful to have some general background about the Canadian legal system, to understand how such laws are created and enforced.
Finally, those concerned about aquatic habitat protection have a right to participate in the laws and planning processes that affect aquatic habitats. By having a clear understanding of who to speak to and how to present the case for keeping our waterways clean a member of the public can become an effective watershed protection advocate.
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