Management Approach on Water Management

Water use planning (WUP) is an example of sustainable work in practice at BC Hydro. The overall goal is to find a better balance between competing uses of water, such as domestic water supply, fish and wildlife, recreation, heritage and electrical power needs, which are environmentally, socially and economically acceptable to British Columbians.

Water use plans were developed for most of BC Hydro's hydroelectric facilities through a consultative planning process involving participants, such as government agencies, First Nations, local citizens and other interest groups.

WUPs are technical documents defining the proposed operating parameters to be applied in the day to day operations of all BC Hydro hydroelectric facilities. WUPs recognize multiple water use objectives by better balancing the social, economic, environmental and recreational uses of water to benefit the public and province. The water use planning process recognizes existing legal and constitutional rights and responsibilities of water users.

There are 13 steps to the WUP process outlined in the Provincial WUP Guidelines. In the WUP process each committee puts forward recommendations which are reflected in a report by the end of Step 8. Following that the licensee, BC Hydro, prepares the draft water use plan, and both the consultation report and the water use plan are submitted to the Comptroller for regulatory review.

A summary list of the steps follows:

Step 1: Initiate a WUP process for the particular facility.
Step 2: Scope the water use issues and interests.
Step 3: Determine the consultation process to be followed and initiate it.
Step 4: Confirm the issues and interests in terms of specific water use objectives.
Step 5: Gather additional information on the impacts of water flows on each objective.
Step 6: Create operating alternatives for regulating water use to meet different interests.
Step 7: Assess the tradeoffs between operating alternatives in terms of the objectives.
Step 8: Determine and document the areas of consensus and disagreement.
Step 9: Prepare a draft WUP and submit it to the Comptroller for regulatory review.
Step 10: Review the draft plan and issue a provincial decision.
Step 11: Review the authorized WUP and issue a federal decision.
Step 12: Monitor compliance with the authorized WUP.
Step 13: Review the plan on a periodic ongoing basis.

The provincial Comptroller of Water Rights reviews the water use plans under the provisions of British Columbia's Water Act, and involves Fisheries and Oceans Canada, other provincial agencies, First Nations, and holders of water licences who might be affected by the plans.

Once accepted by the Comptroller, operational changes, monitoring studies and physical works outlined in the plans are implemented by the Comptroller through orders under the Water Act.