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.

What We Are Doing

  • Implementing a Freshwater Sustainability Strategy (6062KB) (2022-2032) for the Islands Trust Area.
  • Undertaking groundwater sustainability science projects such as aquifer conceptualization and groundwater recharge potential.
  • 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.
  • 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 crust Committees in undertaking projects to developing land-use planning tools to address watershed protection and groundwater preservation (see Galiano Local Trust Committees groundwater recharge protection development permit area. Community Information Meeting presentation (6532KB) and video)
  • Webinars: please find out more about freshwater webinars here.

Islands Trust Freshwater Sustainability Strategy

In February 2022, Trust Council received the Islands Trust Freshwater Sustainability Strategy. This document sets out a vision 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 (6062KB).

Contact us if you have questions regarding the strategy, associated programs, or project details.

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 Fall 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 Fall 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)

Drought Preparation

Best Practices for Groundwater Wells Going Dry and Drought Preparation

The brochure provides guidance for well owners in British Columbia on managing wells that might go dry due to drought or other issues. It advises monitoring well water levels, conserving water, storing groundwater, and using alternative water sources like rainwater. Well owners should avoid adding external water to wells and must consult professionals for maintenance. The brochure highlights the importance of drought preparation, such as implementing water conservation measures year-round, and provides resources for further information on groundwater management and well maintenance.

Webinars & Videos

Freshwater Sustainability Strategy & Online Atlas

  • Islands Trust is diving into Freshwater Sustainability with this webinar on the Islands Trust Freshwater Sustainability Strategy and Online Atlas! Freshwater Specialist William Shulba shared how the strategy sets out goals and objectives to address freshwater supply challenges, support climate action, and ensure watershed security for a future of freshwater sustainability.

Groundwater: Our Shared Responsibility! Webinar

  • Groundwater is a unique amenity of the Islands Trust Area. Join Islands Trust and provincial staff to learn further about groundwater resources and best practices for well management on the islands. Risk of saltwater intrusion is of special concern for coastal aquifers. The likelihood of saltwater intrusion in groundwater wells increases with pumping demand and from coastal hazards such as rising sea levels and storm surges.

Harvesting the Rain, For Indoor Use

Watershed Sustainability Science Program

All local trust committees and Bowen Island Municipality have official community plan policies addressing freshwater and may also have freshwater sustainability projects underway – find out more here.