British Columbia’s new Water Sustainability Act will not successfully protect the Canadian province’s freshwater resources unless the right regulations and resources are in place to make the law fully functional, says an analysis by the University of Victoria’s POLIS Project on Ecological Governance.

The new law replaces the 106-year-old Water Act and is viewed as providing an unprecedented opportunity to fully modernise BC’s water laws.

"Mounting water concerns in the province underscore the urgent need to reform water management and the supporting legal structures," says report co-author Deborah Curran, Hakai Professor in Environmental Law and Sustainability in UVic’s Faculty of Law.

BC’s fresh water is under pressure from an array of threats including climate change, population growth, and escalating and competing demands for water. Watersheds across the province are showing signs of stress from unprecedented droughts to water quality degradation and conflicts over water use.

If BC doesn’t change its approach to freshwater management in response to these realities, the consequences may be significant, as demonstrated by the recent water crises in California and Washington, and globally, says POLIS co-director Oliver M Brandes, who authored the report with Curran and POLIS colleagues.

"A comprehensive water law regime that includes a fully implemented Water Sustainability Act and a full suite of supporting regulations is a necessary condition to ensure that future water challenges don’t become debilitating water crises," says Brandes.

A copy of the report is available at