Weaving in the contributions and knowledge of young water leaders and researchers, an exciting component of Watersheds 2016 will be a student poster viewing session, held in the evening of Saturday October 1st. These students are an important part of next generation of water leaders and many are already involved in their community watersheds. Several of these students are also supporting Watersheds 2016 as note-takers; we thank them in advance for their critical support and wish them all the best in their future endeavours!

 Student Research Poster Abstracts

Title: The Legitimacy Lifecycle in Collaborative Water Governance

Authors: Natalya Melnychuk1, Dr. Rob de Loë2

1 PhD student, School of Environment, Resources and Sustainability, University of Waterloo; Professor, School of Environment, Resources and Sustainability, University of Waterloo

Abstract: Collaborative initiatives involving a diversity of groups (e.g., governments (including First Nations), civil society, business, private stakeholders, etc.) are increasingly used to make decisions or give advice to decision-makers on a range of water issues. One critical factor to the success of these efforts is the legitimacy of the initiative and its decisions and actions. At the broadest level, legitimacy is about validity, which can ensure popular support, stability, and efficiency for an initiative. However, as a concept legitimacy remains elusive with various meanings, theoretical backgrounds, and source norms.  Empirical study can provide clarity around the nature of legitimacy in specific contexts such as collaborative water governance.  Clarity is particularly needed around the changing sources of legitimacy as collaborative efforts mature. 

Drawing on research of five BC-based collaborations, we develop a framework of the dynamic sources of legitimacy as collaborations evolve.  Legitimacy during the founding and growth periods of an initiative depends principally on community readiness to collaborate, a sense of need, and the perceived potential for goal achievement.  As an initiative continues to develop and reach maturity, its legitimacy forms mainly from normative processes – the perceived quality of factors such as accountability, transparency, consensus-building and representation of relevant discourses. Conversely, once an initiative reaches maturity and faces questions of its future existence, legitimacy is largely result-based – tangible and contextually meaningful outcomes must be easily identifiable and promoted. Increased understanding of the dynamics of legitimacy can help collaborative efforts strategically plan and work towards their goals as they evolve.

Title: Whose input counts? Analysing the influence of public consultation on BC’s Water Sustainability Act

Authors: Kiely McFarlane1, Ashlee Jollymore1, Dr. Leila Harris2

1 PhD student, Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability, University of British Columbia; 2 Associate Professor, Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability, University of British Columbia

Abstract: Public consultation has become an increasingly common form of democratic engagement, having been institutionalised within public policy-making and planning processes in many contexts. In Canada, public consultation was instrumental in the overhaul of BC’s primary water legislation, enabling thousands of British Columbians to provide input on the future of water governance in the province. However, questions remain over the effectiveness of the consultation process, particularly regarding the influence of the general public versus special interest groups in shaping the contents of the new Water Sustainability Act (2014). This study offers a novel quantitative approach to systematically compare submitters’ policy positions with the policies embedded in the new Act. Our analysis reveals statistical differences in the alignment of industry and non-industry submitters’ responses with policies in the new Act; these results are displayed as a heat map. The emergence of these two statistical clusters from the submission analysis suggests uneven submitter influence on policy outcomes in the BC Water Sustainability Act – particularly with regard to water licensing policies. Our analysis of submissions also identified barriers to engagement within this otherwise extensive consultation process, including lack of time, resources, and appropriate consultation with First Nations. We conclude with some reflections on the opportunities and limitations of consultation processes for enabling meaningful public input into legislation development.

Title: Community-Based Monitoring as a strategy of Indigenous water governance

Authors: Nicole J. Wilson1, Jody Inkster2, Edda Mutter3, Terre Satterfield1

1 PhD Candidate, Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability, UBC;                   2 Undergraduate Student, Northern Conservation and Environmental Sciences at University of Alberta/Yukon College, Kaska from Ross River Dena (Wolf Clan); 3 Yukon River Inter-Tribal Watershed Council

Abstract: Alterations in water have significant implications for Indigenous peoples due to complex interconnections between environment, health, livelihoods and cultural well being. Indigenous peoples often express frustration with the inability to protect their complex socio-cultural relationships to water, in contexts where colonial forms of governance shape water rights and access. Yet, in spite of jurisdictional constraints, communities continue to engage multiple decolonizing strategies aimed at protecting the waters within their territories. This research analyzes community-based monitoring as one Indigenous water governance strategy. Specifically, we examine a transboundary case study of the Indigenous Observation Network – a community-based water quality monitoring network of Canadian First Nations and Alaska Native Tribes, coordinated by the Yukon River Inter-Tribal Watershed Council – in the Yukon River Basin. Analysis of semi-structured interviews with water quality samplers from across the watershed and other program partners reveals that participating communities value the program as it provides trusted baseline water quality data. At the same time, improvements could be made to monitor additional parameters of local concern, increase the use of data in decision-making processes and improve the sustainability of program funding.

Title: Water Use Planning and Building the Capacity for Watershed Governance in British Columbia

 Author: Jamie Constable

Masters Student, WIGGLab, University of Victoria

 Abstract: The Water Use Planning (WUP) program was designed to revise the operating plans of BC Hydro’s hydroelectric facilities to improve the protection of social and environmental values beyond hydro production, and was intended to resolve conflicts that had escalated in the early 1990s among dam operators, environmentalists, industry stakeholders, local communities, First Nations and government. The Jordan River WUP focused on ensuring that sufficient water was flowing for freshwater fish habitats and specific recreational considerations of the community were achieved. However, numerous other issues were beyond the scope of the WUP process, including: water quality concerns from contamination by improper disposal of wood waste by the logging industry, copper contaminants from previous mines that are no longer active, the extinction of Jordan River Pink and Coho salmon runs, and the recognition of local First Nations’ watershed values. Consequently, local advocates are calling for the creation of a watershed-based group as a mechanism for greater influence in future water planning processes. While the WUP process had a narrow scope, the studies conducted to support the process, and the opportunity to engage in participatory structured decision-making did contribute to building overall knowledge and community engagement. The question that has emerged now though, is whether the WUP process indirectly contributed to the watershed’s community capacity for local watershed governance. This study will examine this question in the Jordan River watershed with the intention to provide insights to community initiatives and recommendations for the upcoming provincial WUP review concluding in 2030.

Title: Exploring Indigenous-led collaborative planning in a watershed context: Perspectives from the Nechako Headwaters

Authors: Kate Hewitt1, Dr. Margot Parkes2

1 Masters Student, Natural Resources & Environmental Studies Institute, University of Northern British Columbia; 2 Associate Professor, School of Health Sciences, University of Northern British Columbia

Increased demands for the allocation and extraction of land and water resources in British Columbia (BC) are adding pressure for collaborative watershed-based planning. In parallel, there is a growing movement towards incorporating Indigenous perspectives for exploring novel collaborative approaches. Recent literature suggests Indigenous research data, stories and narratives are a critical piece in shaping effective, culturally acceptable strategies for land and water planning and management. This is also due to greater legal recognition of Indigenous rights and title. As a result of these increasing demands, there is a need to study novel approaches for advancing collaborative and culturally appropriate watershed planning.

Informed by new collaborative approaches to land and water allocation in BC, this research explores the perspectives of Cheslatta Carrier Nation (CCN). Guided by an Indigenous research methodology and the appreciative inquiry method, this research will explore how the CCN are advancing their own objectives by increasing their presence on the landscape through openly sharing their rich history and traditional knowledge in a novel ‘arms open’ approach. This research poster will share preliminary research finding from the literature and CCN.