Forest Practices Board Report Targets Drinking Water Protection

An investigation by the Forest Practices Board examined how well the Forest and Range Practices Act (FRPA) protects drinking water in community watersheds. In the final report a number of improvements are identified as necessary to help ensure government objectives for drinking water quality and quantity are achieved.

While most forestry licensees were following the legal requirements, the investigation identified several weaknesses in managing community watersheds under FRPA. Among the findings:

• The requirements to protect drinking water are not clear or well understood.

• Commitments made in forestry plans to protect drinking water are not always enforceable.

• Greater emphasis needs to be placed on erosion and sediment control on forestry roads. In many community watersheds, forestry activities from decades ago, and other land uses like mining, recreation and power projects, are affecting water quality. However, the legacy issues and other activities are not subject to the same requirements as current forestry activities.

• Government does not monitor current forest practices to see if drinking water objectives are achieved in community watersheds.

The Board examined forest stewardship plans in 48 of the 131 designated community watersheds with forestry activity in recent years. Forest practices and watershed condition were examined in 12 of the 48 watersheds.

The board makes six recommendations to help improve the legislative framework and ensure government's objectives for community watersheds are achieved.

1. Clarify FRPA's requirements for the protection of water.

2. Define the concept of cumulative hydrological effects.

3. Strengthen the content and approval of forest stewardship plans.

4. Ensure the content of professional assessments is meaningful.

5. Monitor achievement of the community watershed objective.

6. Update the status of community watersheds.

The Forest Practices Board is B.C.'s independent watchdog for best forest and range practices, reporting its findings and recommendations directly to the public and government. The Board can investigate and report on current forestry and range issues and make recommendations for improvement to practices and legislation.

For more information regarding the report, please contact Darlene Oman by email or phone, (250) 213-4705.

Meta Navigation