Freshwater Sustainability

Freshwater sustainability is a shared responsibility.

Islands Trust’s mandate is to preserve and protect the unique amenities and environment of the Islands Trust Area. Among these unique amenities is freshwater, which is inherently vulnerable on the islands. As development pressures continue, population grows, and the impacts of a changing climate intensify, freshwater vulnerabilities for communities, economies, Indigenous heritage, and ecological systems increase.

All local trust committees and Bowen Island Municipality have official community plan policies addressing freshwater and may also have freshwater sustainability projects underway – learn about these on their webpages.

What We Are Doing

  • Implementing a Freshwater Sustainability Strategy (2022-2032) for the Islands Trust Area.
  • Undertaking groundwater sustainability science projects such as aquifer conceptualization and groundwater recharge potential.
  • Creating heritage overlay mapping, including a relational focus on the significance of watershed ecosystems to First Nations heritage and culture.
  • Coordinated the Wells and Groundwater Licensing in the Trust Area webinar with the Province of BC to profile the importance of water licensing and the Groundwater Protection Regulation.
  • Working with the Province of BC to identify groundwater regions in the Islands Trust Area that are vulnerable to saltwater intrusion.
  • Developing model land use regulations for groundwater protection, rainwater catchment and greywater recycling.  
  • Helping protect freshwater ecosystems with the Natural Area Protection Tax Exemption Program (NAPTEP), land donations and conservation covenants.
  • Restoring freshwater ecosystems in Islands Trust Conservancy nature reserves and conservation covenant areas Learn more.
  • Enforcing freshwater related bylaws and development permit areas.
  • Facilitating the Salt Spring Island Watershed Protection Alliance through the the Salt Spring Island Local Trust Committee using funding from a special property tax requisition.
  • Supporting Local Trust Committees in undertaking projects to developing land-use planning tools to address watershed protection and groundwater preservation.
    • Galiano Local Trust Committees is undertaking a project exploring groundwater recharge protection development permit area. Community Information Meeting presentation and video

Islands Trust Freshwater Sustainability Strategy

In February 2022, Trust Council received the Islands Trust Freshwater Sustainability Strategy. This document sets out a vison and actions to address freshwater supply challenges, support climate action, and protect water resources over the longer term. The strategy also identifies how Islands Trust will work with key partners in other government agencies, First Nations, community groups, and island residents. Read the full strategy here.

Contact us if you have questions regarding the strategy, associated programs, or project details at: freshwater@islandstrust.bc.ca

Groundwater Sustainability Science Program

The Groundwater Sustainability Science Program is part of the Freshwater Sustainability Strategy with associated projects to preserve groundwater supplies and protect vulnerable aquifers in the Islands Trust Area.

The Islands Trust Area Aquifer Conceptualization Project has been completed on Denman, Hornby, Gabriola, Galiano, Mayne, North Pender, Saturna, and South Pender Islands. The project continues in  2022/23 to include Salt Spring, Thetis, Lasqueti, Bowen, Gambier, and select associated islands. A webinar and summary document will be publicly presented in March 2023.

The Islands Trust Area Groundwater Recharge Mapping Project has been completed on Denman, Hornby, Gabriola, Galiano, Mayne, North Pender, Saturna, and South Pender Islands. The project continues in  2022/23 to include Salt Spring, Thetis, Lasqueti, Bowen, Gambier, and select associated islands. A webinar and summary document will be publicly presented in March 2023.

The Southern Gulf Islands Groundwater Availability Assessment Project has been completed on Galiano, Mayne, North Pender, Saturna, and South Pender Islands.

Islands Trust Area Aquifer Conceptualization Report, 2021

VIEW (PDF 8327 KB)

Islands Trust Area Groundwater Recharge Potential Mapping Report, 2021

VIEW (PDF 7726 KB)

Islands Trust Area Groundwater Recharge Potential Mapping Appendices, 2021

VIEW (PDF 7676 KB)

Islands Trust Area Groundwater Recharge Precipitation Interception Potential, 2021

VIEW (PDF 6122 KB)

Southern Gulf Islands Groundwater Availability Assessment Report, 2021

VIEW (PDF 10048 KB)

Southern Gulf Islands Groundwater Availability Assessment Appendices, 2021

VIEW (PDF 11165 KB)

Freshwater Resources

Video: Freshwater and the Canadian Islands in the Salish Sea (May 24, 2018)