1 Water | West Coast Environmental Law



Water is critical to the survival of every species on earth. In order to sustain life on earth for generations to come, our water resources need to be kept clean and plentiful. Like never before, however, water quality and supplies are under threat. Pollution and the impacts of development threatens all our water resources - our oceans, our fresh water streams and and lakes, and our aquifers.

Over the past 25 years West Coast has led the way with campaigns to clean up contamination and pollution threatening our water. Our pulp pollution campaign led to regulations on AOX credited with eliminating dioxins and furans from pulp effluent. In the nineties we worked with groups across BC to protect urban streams from development with new streamside regulations. Currently we are engaging with both government and the private sector to reduce the impact of development on our water resources, and we are urging consideration of climate change impacts in decisions that affect our water resources.

West Coast has carried out research and advocacy on a range of topics related to water:

  • Clean drinking water - In 2001, the government passed the Drinking Water Protection Act. Although the Act is a step forward, weaknesses remain both in the legislation and in its implementation. For example, there is still no automatic requirement for water suppliers to prepare an assessment of sources and threats. Our submissions to the Drinking Water Review Panel highlighted key concerns.
  • Cruise ship industry pollution - Cruise ships share many of the same environmental problems as a small city but unlike BC towns and cities, the cruise ship industry is almost completely unregulated when it comes to environmental impacts. Read our report.
  • Wetlands - West Coast has long promoted law reform to establish strong legal tools to protect wetlands and the species that depend upon them. Our BC Guide to Watershed Law and Planning contains many resources on watershed and wetland protection. Regulatory Options to Preserve Burns Bog is an example of a focused study.

To read more on these topics, please search for publications using key words of interest on our Publications Search page. For Fish, see our Wild Salmon, Endangered Species page.

Water Act Reform:

In 2009, the government announced it would be embarking on a modernization of the 101-year old Water Act. West Coast and other NGOs have signed a Statement of Expectations outlining our minimum expectations for a new Water Act. The government has promised a white paper setting out its direction for the modernization plan, to be released in January 2010. Citizens are already invited to submit their thoughts and comments on Water Act reform to the government at the Living Water Smart blog: see http://blog.gov.bc.ca/livingwatersmart/ for more information.