In response to local concerns in the Cowichan watershed including salmon survival, drought, flooding and water quality, the Cowichan Watershed Board (CWB) is seeking to take on increasing involvement in and responsibilities for its governance. The Board is working on an incremental partnership approach with current decision-makers to develop a model of local watershed co-governance based on the rationale that management decisions informed by local people, traditional knowledge and local experts will likely lead to better outcomes, in terms of both ecological conditions and community well-being.
To that end, in 2015-17, the CWB explored which watershed issues and decisions could be better served by our involvement in higher levels of governance. At the same time, the province created a new Water Sustainability Act which can enable some of those solutions. In 2016, CWB presented a governance pilot proposal to the Province including a range of options and we continue to work towards implementing those.
As the CWB considers expanding its governance role however, it has become clear that work is needed to define the cross-jurisdictional rules and policies that govern Watershed Board members in their decisions and activities, and the relationship of the Board to the organizations represented within it.
In this context, the 2017- 2018 “Watershed Co-Governance Conversations” workshop series is exploring and clarify how authority can be shared between the key local decision makers and the Board and will help to define and enhance existing relationships in order to advance co-governance in the watershed. This work is seen as a key step towards preparing the Cowichan Watershed Board to be ready to take on greater authority enabled under the Water Sustainability Act, and will help develop a governance model for other regions to follow.
Cowichan Watershed Co-Governance Conversations: Phase 1: Internal Governance Review
Cowichan Watershed Board, October 2017
Watershed Governance In Action
POLIS Water Sustainability Project Fall 2014 Newsletter, November 2014
The Cowichan Watershed Board: An Evolution of Collaborative Watershed Governance
Polis Project on Ecological Governance, August, 2014
Cowichan Watershed Board input regarding development of the BC Water Sustainability Act
Cowichan Watershed Board, November 2013
Cowichan Watershed Board acknowledges the support of the following organizations for this work.