Water Stewardship Information Sources

Citation Urban Systems Ltd. 2014. Regional Surface & Ground Water Management & Governance Study, Draft Report. Prepared for Cowichan Valley Regional District.
Organization Cowichan Valley Regional District
URL http://www.cvrd.bc.ca/DocumentCenter/View/64766
Abstract/Description or Keywords In recent years, there have been significant water-related challenges all across the Cowichan Valley. In
dry years, low water levels in rivers have impacted salmon populations, reduced the amount of water
available for domestic, recreational and ecosystem use, and even threatened closure of industrial
operations. Water quality issues are also a concern. This has called for enhanced water governance and
management of surface and ground water in the Cowichan region.
In response, the Cowichan Valley Regional District (CVRD) established a Regional Water Management
Committee to oversee a Regional Water Management and Governance Study with the goal of developing
recommendations for water governance and management in the Cowichan region that address the
following six priority areas:
▪ Governance structure
▪ Delegated authority
▪ Oversight
▪ Coordination
▪ Reporting
▪ Funding
To provide input on the development of recommendations to address the issues in the Cowichan, the
Committee established a Task Force with representatives from over 55 distinct organizations involved in
water governance and management in the Cowichan region. Task Force members were engaged in a
facilitated process that was carried out through collaborative workshops and ongoing communications
regarding study progress.
To guide the development of recommendations, a working vision was established with the Task Force, as
well as a set of governance objectives to address primary problems. Additionally, water governance
specialists from across Canada provided suggestions for the Task Force and project team to
consider. Collectively, the vision, six priority areas, and a suite of governance criteria guided the
identification of opportunities for enhanced water governance and management in the region. The
highlight of this guidance was that co-governance with First Nations is a primary condition for success.
Opportunities for enhanced water governance and management include a set of new functions to be
carried out to address primary problems (of which most should be carried out at the regional scale), and
the formation of a regional entity to carry out the functions. These various alternatives, together with the
functions, were evaluated against the governance objectives and criteria, and a preferred approach was
Primary recommendations for enhanced surface and ground water management and governance in the
Cowichan region include the following:
1. Establish a legislated Regional Water Authority, founded on a principle of co-governance
with First Nations, to provide regional coordination for stewardship of surface and ground
water resources and regulation of environmental standards in high-risk watersheds.
2. Transition to the Regional Water Authority under CVRD leadership from 2015-2020.
3. Fund the transition to the Regional Water Authority through the establishment of a CVRD
watershed protection service ($860,000 over four years).
4. Under Regional Water Authority leadership, follow a risk-based approach to decisionmaking
and management across the region.
Information Type report
Regional Watershed Vancouver Island South
Sub-watershed if known Cowichan
Aquifer #
Project status
Contact Name Ehren Lee
Contact Email [email protected]