Water Quality Objectives

Water quality protection or improvement is essential to support ecosystems, human health and other shared water values for British Columbians. Water Quality Objectives (WQOs) provide approved policy direction to guide the balance between human use, values and healthy aquatic environments by guiding statutory decisions that may impact the quality of a specific waterbody.

WQOs are established on a priority basis for freshwater, estuarine and marine waterbodies of regional, provincial, inter-provincial, and international significance. They are used to inform resource management decisions, identify which values should be addressed based on local concerns, promote water stewardship, and support long-term planning in communities across B.C.

WQOs are numbers or statements representing low-risk conditions to provide protection for a specific waterbody and its associated water values and uses. These include:

  • Drinking water sources;
  • Aquatic life and its habitat;
  • Wildlife and its habitat;
  • Agriculture (livestock watering and irrigation);
  • Recreational use and aesthetics; and
  • Traditional, cultural, and social uses.

Objectives are informed by a site-specific water quality assessment using B.C. approved water quality guidelines or similar information, the values identified for the waterbody, the desired level of protection, and local and Indigenous knowledge. The development of WQOs is a collaborative process and may include partnerships with other levels of government, including First Nations.

View the water quality objective fact sheet for more information.

New Water Quality Objectives

Water Quality Objectives Reports

Water Quality Objectives Policy and Procedures

Guidance and information on how and why water quality objectives are developed.

Draft Water Quality Objectives 

Draft Water Quality Objective Policy Reports open for public review.