Rainwater in trust: Legislation, policy, and regulation governing catchment, systems, and use on the Gulf Islands
An increase in development on many of the Gulf Islands, coupled with changing precipitation patterns due to an altered climate, has led to increased pressures on fresh water resources from already highly vulnerable island aquifers. With a growing demand for the existing and increasingly scarce water resources available, an increase to density on each island in the Islands Trust Area is emerging as the number one concern and priority for the land use authority vis-à-vis subdivision regulations, and affordable housing opportunities. Overlapping regional jurisdictions create further regulatory challenges to this issue. Regional Districts, Islands Trust, and Island Health (the regional health authority for Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands area), for example, all have various roles to play in a complex governance structure under the auspices of the province of British Columbia (BC). In the interest of ensuring access to a reliable supply of fresh water into the future, a collaborative and cross-jurisdictional policy approach is needed in order to address alternatives to the increased extraction of water from identified vulnerable aquifers in the region. Rainwater harvesting (RWH) could be part of the solution to this issue. This paper explores the framework of statute, policy, regulation, governing RWH in the Islands Trust Area to better understand whether barriers or gaps exist in the overall regulatory ecosystem that could be addressed in order to better facilitate the implementation of RWH as part of climate change adaptation efforts.