Fraser Basin Council


4. Who Does What in Water Planning, Management and Governance?

This section of the guide provides an overview of the wide range of roles and responsibilities of all orders of government and other organizations in water management in BC.

Depending on the scope of a particular water or watershed planning process, many of these organizations will have a role in planning. The diversity of responsibilities reinforces the value of implementing collaborative approaches to planning and governance.

It is important to understand how and where water and watershed planning fits within the larger context of water management and governance. For this guide, water management is described as including the following components:

  • policies (e.g., legislation, regulations and other types of policies);
  • governance arrangements (e.g., formal agreements and protocols, financial mechanisms, collaborative decision-making processes, and consultation, advisory and public participation processes);
  • planning (e.g., a variety of processes to develop water plans, watershed plans, and other types of plans such as Official Community Plans); and
  • implementation (e.g., implementation of policies and plans, operation of water and wastewater facilities, compliance and enforcement of regulations). 

Resources such as information, financial and human resources can also be considered to be a key component of water management. 

This guide focuses on the planning component of water management. However, it also speaks to other components as they relate to planning. For example, this section includes an overview of the range of water management roles and responsibilities that exist among a wide variety of organizations.

Governance can be described in terms of who makes decisions and how they are made. While government agencies have critical roles in governance, the concept is broader than government.

There are a wide range of regulatory and non-regulatory roles, responsibilities and jurisdictions that span federal, provincial, local and First Nations governments. In addition, water user groups, watershed stewards, the general public and other stakeholders are increasingly becoming involved in planning, management and decision making for our water resources. See also 9.4 Water Legislation in BC.

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About Rethinking our Water Ways

This website is a guide to help BC communities learn more about planning for local watersheds and water resources, navigate current planning processes, consider relevant issues and challenges — including regional climate change impacts —  and build capacity to develop and implement plans.


The Rethinking our Water Ways guide and website are possible thanks to funding support from the BC Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources Canada's Regional Adaptation Collaborative Program. The guide and website were launched and distributed through a series of regional workshops throughout BC, with funding contributions from the Fraser Salmon and Watersheds Program, Environment Canada and the Real Estate Foundation of BC. Learn more about our funders and advisors.

We want to hear from you

Share your suggestions for this website, and ideas for future water workshops, with:

Steve Litke
Senior Program Manager
T: 604 488-5358

About the Fraser Basin Council

Rethinking our Water Ways is an initiative of the Fraser Basin Council (FBC), a charitable non-profit society that advances sustainability in the Fraser River Basin, across BC, and beyond. Established in 1997, FBC brings people together from multiple sectors to learn about sustainability and find collaborative solutions to current issues. Learn more about FBC by visiting