Volume 33, Issue 3

May 2017
Special Issue on Integrated Watershed Management in Canada: Experiences of Watershed Authorities

Research Article

Integrated Water Resources Management in Canada: the experience of watershed agencies

Dan Shrubsolea, Dan Waltersb, Barbara Vealec and Bruce Mitchelld
aDepartment of Geography, University of Western Ontario, London, Canada; bDepartment of Geography, Nipissing University, North Bay, Ontario, Canada; cHalton Region Conservation Authority, Burlington, Ontario, Canada; dDepartment of Geography and Environmental Management, University of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada

Contact: Dan Shrubsole | Email: dashrubs@uwo.ca


Water agencies from 7 of the 10 Canadian provinces shared their experiences regarding history, successes, challenges and lessons learned with integrated watershed management. Based on these contributions, it is clear that an integrated approach does not mean ‘all-encompassing’. Rather, it proposes desirable and feasible solutions through a systems approach based on sound technical information (e.g. biophysical and socio-economic), public engagement and monitoring. The roles of all participants must be clearly defined in order to promote success and facilitate implementation. Enduring and emerging challenges, such as adequate capacity and financing, engagement with Aboriginal communities and other stakeholders, and successful implementation, are identified.

Pages: 349-359


Research Article

Integrated watershed management and Ontario’s conservation authorities

Charley Worte
Conservation Ontario, Newmarket, Canada

Contact: Charley Worte | Email: cworte@gmail.com


In Ontario, integrated watershed management has evolved into a fragmented, multi-agency environment that has made effective management difficult. In the 1990s, two approaches emerged – a local voluntary approach based on informal agency partnerships, and a regulatory approach established in provincial legislation. This paper describes the successes, challenges and lessons learned by drawing upon the experiences of Ontario’s conservation authorities. Key lessons learned include the need for an interactive planning cycle and a multi-stakeholder decision-making process. While significant progress has been made in the practical application of integrated watershed management, significant challenges remain including the lack of a comprehensive policy and inadequate resources.

Pages: 360-374


Research Article

Implementing integrated water management: illustrations from the Grand River watershed

aBarbara Veale and bSandra Cooke
aHalton Region Conservation Authority, Burlington, Ontario, Canada; bGrand River Conservation Authority, Cambridge, Ontario, Canada

Contact: Sandra Cooke | Email: scooke@grandriver.ca


The Grand River watershed is the largest in southern Ontario. Poor water quality, floods and drought experienced in the 1930s prompted the formation of the Grand River Conservation Authority. While significant water improvements have been achieved, the Grand River faces chronic stress from the impacts of rapid population growth, land use intensification and changing climate. There is renewed commitment to address evolving water issues through integrated watershed management. This article summarizes the lessons learnt in the Grand River watershed and contends that integrated watershed management, although difficult to implement, provides a useful framework for practical application and positive results.

Pages: 375-392


Research Article

Lessons from implementing integrated water resource management: a case study of the North Bay-Mattawa Conservation Authority, Ontario

Paula Scotta, Brian Taylera and Dan Waltersb
aNorth Bay-Mattawa Conservation Authority, North Bay, Ontario, Canada; bDepartment of Geography, Nipissing University, North Bay, Ontario, Canada

Contact: Dan Walters | Email: danw@nipissingu.ca


This case study explores the North Bay-Mattawa Conservation Authority’s experience in implementing IWRM. Successes include protecting life and property by mitigating flood and erosion hazards; building capacity through multi-stakeholder collaborations; and fostering community stewardship. Ongoing challenges include limited resources and narrow mandate for addressing broader watershed and natural resources issues; and a need to enhance relationships with First Nations. The NBMCA has learned numerous lessons on how to apply IWRM, including collaborating early and often and fostering community stewardship.

Pages: 393-407


Research Article

Integrated water resource management and British Columbia’s Okanagan Basin Water Board

Natalya Melnychuka, Nelson Jatelb and Anna L. Warwick Searsb
aSchool of Environment, Resources, and Sustainability, University of Waterloo, ON, Canada; bOkanagan Basin Water Board, Kelowna, BC, Canada

Contact: Anna L. Warwick Sears | Email: Anna.Warwick.Sears@obwb.ca


This study examines successes and limitations of integrated water resource management (IWRM) for the Okanagan Basin Water Board (OBWB), a basin management entity in British Columbia, Canada. Effective governance, adequate financing and scientifically informed decision making are attributes contributing to the OBWB’s IWRM success. OBWB’s IWRM challenges include meaningful engagement of First Nations, public apathy towards water governance, succession planning for retiring professionals, and management authority limitations. Constraints on the OBWB’s authority and perceived lack of need to formalize the IWRM approach will affect other local IWRM applications. The study adds a western Canadian example of basin management to IWRM practice.

Pages: 408–425


Research Article

The integrated watershed management planning experience in Manitoba: the local conservation district perspective

Colleen Cuveliera and Cliff Greenfieldb
aLittle Saskatchewan Conservation District, Oak River, Manitoba, Canada; bPembina Valley Conservation District, Manitou, Manitoba, Canada

Contact: Cliff Greenfield | Email: pvwd.mgr@gmail.com


Manitoba has abundant freshwater resources, and developing and implementing integrated watershed management plans is essential to ensure a healthy future. This article provides an assessment of progress in Manitoba since the early 1990s (Mitchell and Shrubsole, 1994) regarding integrated watershed management plans. It explains current conditions, including the structural framework, governance, public consultations and First Nations participation, along with examples of experiences, successes, failures, and lessons learnt. The Water Protection Act, proclaimed in 2006, empowered conservation districts to develop and implement integrated watershed management plans as the water planning authority, and represents the most significant change.

Pages: 426–440


Research Article

Applying integrated watershed management in Nova Scotia: a community-based perspective from the Clean Annapolis River Project

Levi Cliche and Lindsey Freeman
Clean Annapolis River Project, Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia, Canada

Contact: Levi Cliche | Email: levicliche@annapolisriver.ca


This article examines integrated watershed management in the Annapolis River basin in Nova Scotia from the perspective of a community-based watershed organization. It draws on the experiences of the Clean Annapolis River Project (CARP) to provide a case study of the financial, institutional, human, political and social capacity of a small non-governmental organization in implementing integrated watershed management. CARP’s guiding principles of utilizing science, leadership and community engagement to achieve ecologically healthy watersheds align with an integrated watershed management approach. Using examples of CARP’s programming and projects, this article describes the successes and challenges encountered in the implementation of community-based integrated watershed management.

Pages: 441-457


Research Article

Integrated watershed management in the Bow River basin, Alberta: experiences, challenges, and lessons learned

Judy Stewarta and Mark Bennettb
aCochrane, Canada; bBow River Basin Council, Calgary Water Centre, Calgary, Canada

Contact: Judy Stewart | Email: stewart.jmm@gmail.com


Alberta’s Bow River is heavily engineered and hard-working, supplying water to almost 1.5 million people, while meeting the needs of hydropower, agriculture, tourism and irrigation industries upstream and downstream of Calgary. Working together since 1992, the Bow River Basin Council, a voluntary multi-stakeholder organization, with government representatives at the table, has developed watershed management plans as decision-support tools; provided a forum for relationship and trust building; shared information; and co-generated knowledge. Difficult challenges became opportunities for collaborative learning by doing. The processes involved in integrated watershed management were as important as the plans that emerged. Implementing plan objectives remains the greatest challenge.

Pages: 458-472


Research Article

The Northeast Avalon Atlantic Coastal Action Program: implementing integrated watershed management in Newfoundland and Labrador

Kailyn Burke
Northeast Avalon Atlantic Coastal Action Program, St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada

Contact: Kailyn Burke | Email: kailyn.burke@naacap.ca


The Northeast Avalon Atlantic Coastal Action Program (NAACAP) is a non-profit organization dedicated to protecting watersheds and coastal environments through research, education, community engagement and strong cross-sectoral partnerships. NAACAP’s mission statement establishes the principles of integrated watershed management, which drive the efforts of the organization: local initiatives; partnerships and collaboration; watershed basis; and aquatic health. Central to NAACAP’s successes are strong partnerships with industry, other non-profits and local, provincial and federal governments. This is key to overcoming the ongoing anthropogenic and organizational challenges faced by NAACAP in the application of integrated watershed management in the Northeast Avalon region of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Pages: 473–488


Research Article

Implementing integrated watershed management in Quebec: examples from the Saint John River Watershed Organization

Marie-Claude Leclerca and Michel Grégoireb
aRegroupement des organismes de bassin versants du Québec, Université Laval, Canada; bSaint John River Watershed Organization, Québec, Canada

Contact: Michel Grégoire | Email: direction@obvfleuvestjean.com


Water management in the province of Quebec has evolved rapidly in recent years. Public consultation led the provincial government to adopt a Quebec Water Policy in 2002, which was reinforced with the passing of the Quebec Water Act in 2009. This legislative tool enabled the creation of 40 watershed organizations responsible for implementing integrated watershed management (IWM). This article explains the context in which IWM has evolved in the province of Quebec. It also describes the successes, challenges and lessons learned by the Saint John River Watershed Organization in implementing IWM in a transboundary watershed.

Pages: 489–506