New World Wildlife Fund report showcases the role of SDM
January 5, 2015

WWF-Canada produced a report to share lessons from the BC Hydro water use planning process because of its success in delivering improvements to flow and fisheries as well as other environmental benefits at 23 facilities in BC. Further, "The story of BC Hydro's water use planning deserves a wider audience because of the collaboration features, involvement of First Nations, public participation benefits, commitment to monitoring and adaptive management, use of structured decision making and on-the-ground implementation." 

The report includes case studies of the SDM process at three facilities. Among other things it notes:

  • consensus was achieved at 22 of 23 facilities;
  • even where consensus was not achieved the process delivered benefits - better understanding among stakeholders and sound monitoring that will help resolve outstanding issues in the future;
  • the failure to reach consensus was attributed to a lack of continuity in attendance and associated loss of mutual learning;
  • overall, the process is promoted as a model for collaborative water governance.
Interestingly, the report emphasizes the critical role of addressing trade-offs in a collaborative process (p 47): "It is possible that an alternative process where flows were managed solely for fish and habitat would outperform SDM from the fish habitat point of view. However whether such an alternative process would have received the same level of public acceptance is not as clear."
 
Finally, the report highlights the critical role of monitoring and adaptive management in reducing key uncertainties. Most of the WUPs included a commitment by BC Hydro to report back on the findings from these programs and use them to review facility operations in 10-15 years. That time is approaching for some facilities; we look forward to hearing about the results.
 
The report is available here: