Drinking Water and Watershed Protection Action Plan Update


We are all connected by water - it hydrates us, offers enjoyment and beauty, and provides vital habitat. It is important for culture and recreation. Water allows us to run our businesses, raise healthy families and grow our food. Freshwater is undoubtedly a part of our identity in this region.

Yet, our water faces challenges:

  • a changing climate - more frequent and longer droughts; more intense rainfall and floods
  • increased pressures on land and water as we grow as a region
  • complex cross-jurisdictional management that requires strong local involvement.

It's been 10 years since the RDN's Drinking Water and Watershed Protection (DWWP) program first began implementing its Board-approved regional Action Plan in 2009. The key focus areas of DWWP are water education & outreach, water science & monitoring and water planning & policy support. In 2019, it is time for the Action Plan to be updated to reflect current objectives, emerging areas of focus, updated priorities, and required resources for a refreshed program mandate for the next decade and beyond.

On this page you can participate in the Action Plan Update - share your vision for a sustainable water future in our region!


How to navigate this page:

  • Read the original Drinking Water and Watershed Protection Action Plan, background information, the 10-year review report and more in the background documents.
  • Check out our timeline to see the project milestones.
  • Complete our survey to provide your input below (closed May 27, 2019).
  • Contribute to the forum below with your ideas and vision for a sustainable water future.
  • If you have any questions, use the Q&A tab below and our staff will respond
  • Make sure you register (subscribe) to receive email updates on this project!

Thank you for taking the time to learn more and share your thoughts about water in the RDN!


We are all connected by water - it hydrates us, offers enjoyment and beauty, and provides vital habitat. It is important for culture and recreation. Water allows us to run our businesses, raise healthy families and grow our food. Freshwater is undoubtedly a part of our identity in this region.

Yet, our water faces challenges:

  • a changing climate - more frequent and longer droughts; more intense rainfall and floods
  • increased pressures on land and water as we grow as a region
  • complex cross-jurisdictional management that requires strong local involvement.

It's been 10 years since the RDN's Drinking Water and Watershed Protection (DWWP) program first began implementing its Board-approved regional Action Plan in 2009. The key focus areas of DWWP are water education & outreach, water science & monitoring and water planning & policy support. In 2019, it is time for the Action Plan to be updated to reflect current objectives, emerging areas of focus, updated priorities, and required resources for a refreshed program mandate for the next decade and beyond.

On this page you can participate in the Action Plan Update - share your vision for a sustainable water future in our region!


How to navigate this page:

  • Read the original Drinking Water and Watershed Protection Action Plan, background information, the 10-year review report and more in the background documents.
  • Check out our timeline to see the project milestones.
  • Complete our survey to provide your input below (closed May 27, 2019).
  • Contribute to the forum below with your ideas and vision for a sustainable water future.
  • If you have any questions, use the Q&A tab below and our staff will respond
  • Make sure you register (subscribe) to receive email updates on this project!

Thank you for taking the time to learn more and share your thoughts about water in the RDN!

Do you have a question for the RDN in regards to this project? If so, please ask us here.

Q&A

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  • Drinking water and watershed protection are such big issues, there are a lot of different actions to be considered within a 10-year strategy. I am wondering: what is NOT up for consideration in the updated Action Plan. This may help to guide the responses?

    7 months ago

    Great question! Maybe the following will help bring clarity to what is NOT part of the purview of the RDN Drinking Water and Watershed Protection Action Plan...

    • The action plan is not itself a regulatory instrument (but it can support or advocate for regulation)

    • The action plan does not make the RDN the single authority (but it can orchestrate collaborative partnerships across jurisdictions and authorities)

    • The action plan does not deal with land acquisition (but it can, through monitoring and data analysis, point to where sensitive lands are in terms of water protection)

    • The action plan does not deal with the operations of individual water supply systems (but it can align with and support strategic priorities about water supply sustainability at the regional level)

    To date, the Action Plan has dealt largely with Outreach and Education, Science and Monitoring and Planning/ Policy Support... these are the categories of actions to consider for the next 10 years too, as they have been a useful framework for our implementation of regional activities.

    Consider how water does not conform to jurisdictional boundaries - that is what the DWWP program aims to overcome through initiatives that use watershed and aquifer boundaries as a guiding framework. This means partnerships across jurisdictions are key.

    Consider too that our program is about both Drinking Water (community water; quality and availability; efficiency and conservation) and Watershed Protection (environmental water; quality and availability, protection and enhancement). 

    Other key considerations that we MUST include in our updated Plan are:
    • linkages to existing RDN plans, i.e. Regional Growth Strategy, Liquid Waste Management Plan + more
    • climate change implications and response
    • First Nations partnerships and collaboration
    • the role of local government under the new BC Water Sustainability Act
    • building off of the accomplishments in the first decade

    Hope this helps - keep the great questions coming and thank you for your participation!

  • What are the climate change projections for our region? And, how will that affect our water?

    7 months ago

    Our neighbours to the south, the Cowichan Valley Regional District, completed a Climate Projections and Impacts Analysis in 2017. Their findings are generally applicable to our region and are directly quoted and summarized below.

    Global climate models project an increase in annual average temperature of almost 3°C in our region by the 2050s. This translates to:

    Hotter & Longer Summers

    • As our climate warms, our region can expect more than a doubling in the number of summer days above 25°C, from an average of 16 days per year to 39 days per year. 
    • The 1-in-20 hottest temperature is projected to increase from 33°C to 37°C by the 2050s.
    • This projected warming has implications for future water and cooling demands, and translates into changes that are important to our ecosystems, watersheds, and communities, including an overall 28% increase in the length of the growing season and a 49% increase in growing degree days regionally. 

    Warmer winters
    • Warmer winters mean the region will experience a 63% decrease in the number of frost days and heating demand will decrease overall, although both high and low temperature extremes are still possible in a less stable climate. 
    • A modest 5% increase in annual precipitation is projected in our region by the 2050s.

    Increase in intense precipitation in Fall
    • Projections indicate that fall will see the greatest increase in precipitation. 
    • This precipitation is expected during increasingly extreme events, with about 30% more precipitation on very wet days (95th percentile wettest days indicator) and 65% more on extremely wet days (99th percentile wettest days indicator). 

    Drier summers
    • Despite the projected increased intensity of wet events, the amount of rain in summer is expected to decrease by 17%, and the duration of dry spells will be lengthened by about 20%, from 22 consecutive days to 26 days.
    • In the future only the highest elevations in our region will experience temperatures below freezing. 

    Less snowpack at elevation
    • Outcomes from the sub-regional analysis also indicate the wettest areas in the mountains of the west coast will become even wetter, and warmer temperatures will cause more precipitation to fall as rain. 
    • April 1 snowpack depth is projected to decrease by 85% by the 2050s.

    These implications need to be considered as we develop our next 10-year action plan for Drinking Water and Watershed Protection in the Regional District of Nanaimo, so our region can respond and adapt and be resilient.