Local government drinking water infrastructure

Sustainable water resource management helps protect the environment, promotes long-term socio-economic viability and is critical for ensuring that all British Columbians have access to safe and reliable drinking water.

Drinking water quality

The Drinking Water Protection Act and Drinking Water Protection Regulation govern drinking water from source to tap and set standards for safe drinking water and domestic water use.

Aquatic ecosystems and drinking water sources are protected through integrated watershed management strategies and a multi-barrier approach that starts with watershed-based source protection.

Learn more about environmental health in relation to drinking water quality:

Water conservation

British Columbians consume 30 percent more water than the average Canadian. Multiple factors have encouraged over-consumption and water waste and impacted water conservation:

  • Fresh water is perceived as being in endless supply
  • Pricing structures undervalue the true cost of water
  • Many water resources are not directly accessible
  • Water treatment and distribution carries prohibitive costs

The Water Sustainability Act updated and replaced the Water Act introduced in 1909, and focuses on the areas of water governance and management, including conservation.

The Water Conservation Guide for British Columbia provides a step-by-step process for water conservation planning:

Water conservation strategies

Water conservation strategies reduce water system operational and maintenance costs while providing communities the same services and benefits. Through application of these strategies, large-scale capital projects such as reservoir expansions may be deferred.

Demand-Side management

Demand-side management is a water conservation strategy that aims to reduce water waste through a host of policies, technologies and programs that encourage efficient water use.

Communities can illustrate how specific conservation measures can yield both fiscal and physical water savings using the water conservation calculator.

Education campaigns

Water conservation strategies require strong education campaigns that inform users of low-flow appliances, sprinkling regulations and other demand-side conservation measures such as water metering. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Water Conservation Plan Guidelines [Updated LINK: https://www3.epa.gov/watersense/pubs/guide.html] is a useful tool for developing community water conservation plans.

Conservation plans

Local governments must have a water conservation plan to receive capital grant funds for drinking water infrastructure. Several communities have developed conservation plans that incorporate water saving tips, regulations, policies and innovative technologies:

Drinking water infrastructure grants

Infrastructure renewal and expansion is a fundamental component in providing a dependable supply of safe drinking water. Local governments can access two types of grants to support water infrastructure development--infrastructure planning grants and capital grants.

Infrastructure planning grants

The infrastructure planning grant program provides local governments with grants of up to $10,000 to study the feasibility and planning of sustainable drinking water projects. Eligible drinking water projects include, and are not limited to:

  • Infrastructure renewal plans
  • Comprehensive water conservation plans
  • Integrated watershed management plans
  • Groundwater protection plans
  • Water master plans

Capital grants

Capital grants provide partial funding to local governments for the renewal, upgrade, or development of new drinking water infrastructure.