Watershed Woes

As most of us are aware, Provincial law makes the SCRD responsible for providing drinking water, while withholding the regulatory power over the watershed. Those looking for more background on this issue should find a copy of Dan Bouman’s book, The People’s Water, in the RC Library reading room or elsewhere.

25 of the 27 Regional Districts are in the same situation, and the issue has long been a source of joint lobbying of the Province through the Union of BC Municipalities, and other avenues. Recent logging in the Chapman watershed was temporarily halted through a collaborative process involving community members, the contractor, Regional District staff, and the Board.

At the December 4th Infrastructure Services Committee, staff presented a report that indicated that the sediment control measures put in place by the contractor were proving insufficient. The report went on to describe actions taken by staff, including correspondence with the contractor, the Vancouver Coastal Health regional drinking water officer, and the Managed Forest Council, which oversees best management practices on Private Managed Forest Land such as this.

Since the report, the Board has directed staff to follow up on correspondence with the above parties, to continue to monitor water quality, especially around the recent cut block, to develop an action plan for the spring to address additional logging, and to report monthly to the Board on inspections of the cut block area.

The SCRD continues to look for long term solutions to this issue, through venues such as the Association of Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities’ Task Force on private managed forest lands within watersheds, and through collaboration with the shishalh nation.

In the meantime, we are faced with a Provincial Government whose “objective” for community watersheds is to prevent “a material adverse impact on the quality of water… to the extent that it does not unduly reduce the supply of timber from British Columbia’s forests.”  Forest and Range Protection Act, Section 8.2  (My bolds)

UPDATE, Jan 9th:

At the January 8th Infrastructure Committee Meeting, the Board was informed that Private Managed Forest Council staff had been on site in late December, and were carrying out an investigation. At this time there is no indication of when that process will be completed.