Strengthening decision-making and collaboration for healthy watersheds


POLIS Water Sustainability Project

Cover page of POLIS reportUsing examples from British Columbia, a report from the POLIS Water Sustainability Project considers systemic solutions as the key for watershed management – including collaborative governance, knowledge sharing and shared authorities.

Alberta’s regional plans under the Land-use Framework are based on Alberta watersheds because watersheds represent interconnectedness. This same holistic and systemic approach should be applied to the management of watersheds, says the report.

Download the report: Strengthening decision-making and collaboration for healthy watersheds.


Role of municipalities in watershed management

Since municipalities and local governments are the “closest to local water issues and concerns,” their role is founded on making collaborative decisions regarding infrastructure and land use. For watersheds, municipalities contribute in two ways:

1. Regulation and service delivery

By protecting freshwater and providing water/wastewater services, municipalities have a major role in managing water capacity and protection. Approaches or tools that municipalities can use include:

  • Water services and infrastructure
  • Managing land use and development
  • Response to water-related emergencies
  • Services and infrastructure to adapt to climate change
  • Water conservation and education programs
  • Funding for water-related projects and infrastructure


2. Collaborate with other stakeholders

Water management is not the sole responsibility for a single group or government – municipalities are among one stakeholder with strong interests in the protection and management of watersheds.

Partnerships with other local governments, Indigenous communities, other governments, non-governmental organizations and private interest groups create the foundation for regional management. Collaboration enables municipalities to advocate for their local interests while considering the concerns or opportunities from neighbouring communities or groups within their borders.


Download the full report: Strengthening decision-making and collaboration for healthy watersheds.

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