Watersheds provide homes for a wide diversity of plants and animals. Lakes, rivers, streams and wetlands provide humans with extensive benefits and are indispensable to supporting natural life. While many of B.C.’s watersheds are still pristine, others face increasing pressures from population growth, industrial and agricultural development.
This page explains government commitments to watershed restoration efforts. These are concentrated in areas where the demand for water is high and watersheds are under pressure from human activities.
What is the B.C government doing?
Conserving and restoring stream function
The provincial government works with the private sector and supports communities to conserve and restore stream function, for example:
Recognising water flow requirements in legislation to protect nature's needs.
Helping all land and water managers to understand what makes a stream healthy, so land and water users factor in new approaches to securing stream health and the full range of stream benefits.
Undertaking research into watershed restoration and health assessment, such as ground and surface water interactions and climate change impacts on water supply and hydrology.
Coordinating conservation and watershed restoration efforts through processes such as watershed-based
fish sustainability planning.
Implementing watershed and habitat restoration projects through the $21 million Living Rivers Trust Fund, Habitat Conservation Trust Fund, and other partnerships.
Working closely with the federal government on restoration and protection initiatives such as the Wild Salmon Policy.
Media release: Projects Announced on World Water Day Get Boost
British Columbia is investing more than $1 million in water-related funding to support
water and fisheries resources…
Protecting and rehabilitating wetlands
Wetland and waterway function will be protected and rehabilitated by:
- Providing incentives to land developments that store more greenhouse gases by restoring sections of streams or wetlands.
- Continuing provincial government participation in the North American Waterfowl Management Plan, Joint Ventures in B.C. and the B.C. Trust for Public Lands to secure and restore important migratory bird wetland habitat and adjacent uplands, and
- Continuing B.C. government participation in the Wetland Stewardship Partnership and the development and implementation of the Wetland Action Plan, including:
- supporting implementation of the Green Bylaws Toolkit for Conserving Sensitive Ecosystems, developing wetland best management practices to provide guidance to landowners, land managers, local governments, developers, utility companies, businesses and industries, and agencies.
- developing a wetland mitigation and compensation strategy that supports no net loss, and where appropriate, net gain of wetlands where wetland losses from development have resulted in impaired watershed hydrology.
B.C. Wetlands Get Boost from New Partnership
Developed by the Wetland Stewardship Partnership (WSP), Wetland Ways is a series of guidelines and best practices to help build a comprehensive model for wetland conservation in B.C. These guidelines are intended to avoid and minimize impacts on wetlands on both private and public lands. Wetland Ways is intended for people involved in some form of planning activity or development near wetlands, as well as those looking for guidance on the best ways to maintain the high ecological values in these areas.
We encourage and welcome comments on these guidelines.
For more details and links to the document…
Funding Helps Preserve Globally Recognized Wetlands
The Columbia Wetlands Stewardship Partnership will receive a $40,000 grant to help preserve the ecological diversity of one of the longest wetlands systems in North America, announced Environment Minister Barry Penner…
Supporting specific restoration projects
Celebrating a successful Dam upgrade.
Fish populations and aquatic ecosystems now have improved available habitat and migratory channels in the Okanagan. The upgrading of McIntyre Dam to provide upstream fish passage for salmon is now largely complete and the 2009 Sockeye Salmon run was able to pass the structure. The old roller gates on the dam have been replaced with fish friendly overshot gates. This was a project undertaken with the help of several partners, most notably the Okanagan Nation Alliance. A ceremonial opening planned by the Okanagan Nation Alliance recognised the success of the project on June 5, 2010.
- The B.C. government provided $4.5 million to support the clean-up of acid rock drainage into the Tsolum River. For more information on this project visit the Tsolum River Restoration Society
Media release: Mine Remediation Will Help Restore Fish Stocks
The $4.5-million remediation of an abandoned Mount Washington open pit copper mine will support the recovery of Vancouver Island fish stocks…
- The B.C. government will restore ecological health to 30 km of stream between Vaseux Lake and Osoyoos Lake. For more information on this project visit the Okanagan Basin Technical Working Group.
- To enhance some watersheds, the provincial government will examine the potential of decommissioning or modifying dams.
Other watershed conservation and restoration measures are included under:
What can you do?
- Make sure your actions don’t pollute or harm the environment. Reduce the use of hazardous products in your home and garden.
- Reduce or eliminate the use of fertilizers and pesticides. Avoid applying them close to a well.
- Take paints, oils, batteries and other hazardous materials to the nearest recycling or collection facility.
- Do not pour anything but water into storm sewer grates – these sewers flow directly into waterways.
- If you are on a septic system, make sure it is regularly maintained.
- If you have livestock, build fences to keep the animals out of rivers streams, lakes and wetlands
- Visit Easy actions to do for more ideas.
- Learn about stream health and how to keep our wetlands and waterways healthy. Maintain or restore native vegetation around a wetland or along a stream that runs through your property. For ideas visit Get involved in your area.
Did you know?
- A hectare of wetland has an estimated economic value of $5,792 to $24,330 a year – this considers all the benefits provided, including water purification, flood control, refuge for animals, and more. Source: Olewiler (2004).
- If the approximately 40,000 hectares of the Lower Fraser Valley wetlands were valued for services provided, at the lowest estimate it would still be worth over $231 million per year!
- Most of B.C.’s approximately 5.6% remaining wetlands are in remote areas.
- The hundreds of thousands of streams in B.C. account for one quarter of the fresh flowing water in Canada. A few of the major B.C. rivers – the Fraser, Columbia, Stikine, Peace, Liard and Skeena – account for most of the recorded flows.
Wetlands are areas where water meets the land, where the water table can be at or very near the soil surface. Some wetlands will hold water year round, while others for only a few months. They are among the most productive ecosystems on Earth, and support many different types of plant and animal species, as well as naturally filtering our water.
These plans recognize that freshwater ecosystems depend on the condition of the entire watershed and that complex connections exist among fish, animals, plants and humans.