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 has always been vulnerable. 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.

In a 2016 poll, over 40% of islanders said they sometimes worry about their household running out of freshwater and climate change projections are increasing those concerns.

What We Are Doing

  • Coordinated with the Province of BC to present the Wells and Groundwater Licensing in the Trust Area webinar, which profiled the importance of the March 1, 2022 deadline to apply for a water licence,
    and provided local context to the risks of not applying.
  • Implementing a Freshwater Sustainability Strategy (2022-2032) for the Islands Trust Area.
    • Creating heritage overlay mapping, including a relational focus on the significance of watershed ecosystems to First Nations heritage and culture
    • 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 you 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 bylaws and development permit area regulations where they are in place

Local Priorities

  • 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.
  • Mapping groundwater recharge potential across the Islands Trust Area and developing water budgets.
  • Salt Spring Island Local Trust Committee coordinates the Salt Spring Island Watershed Protection Alliance using funding from a special property tax requisition.

Groundwater Sustainability Science Program Reports

The Groundwater Sustainability Science Program is an ongoing strategy that was initiated in 2017 to preserve groundwater supplies and protect vulnerable aquifers in the Islands Trust Area.

The Islands Trust Area aquifer conceptualization and groundwater recharge potential mapping projects have been completed on Denman, Hornby, Gabriola, Galiano, Mayne, North Pender, Saturna, and South Pender Islands. Islands Trust to complete these projects across the Islands Trust Area in  2022/23 to include Salt Spring, Thetis, and Lasqueti, Bowen, Gambier Islands, and select associated islands.

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

If you have questions regarding these projects please email

Groundwater Well Maps

Video Date: May 24, 2018