Carrying Out a Shared Vision and Securing Funding in the Nechako Watershed

Blue canoes in Nechako River.

Lessons Learned

  • An initial project-based collaboration can kickstart a larger-scale collaborative effort
  • A collaborative watershed strategy can provide the basis for engaging with a range of funding bodies and catalyze progress on projects
  • Local governments can support watershed governance initiatives by providing core funding support

Detailed Overview

The Nechako watershed spans 52,000 square kilometres within the upper Fraser Basin and supports diverse ecosystems and communities. Like many watersheds in B.C., the Nechako faces significant challenges, from the mountain pine beetle epidemic and other issues related to climate change, to salvage logging and significant water diversions for industry. Various organizations and community members were concerned about the health of their watershed and formed an informal group to share their knowledge and information, explore common interests, and brainstorm the necessary actions needed to advance watershed health. In 2012, the group was established as the Nechako Watershed Alliance. After three years of establishing relationships and trying to determine the best path forward, the Nechako Watershed Alliance adopted a ‘roundtable’ governance structure to help direct and advise water stewardship activities in the Nechako River Basin. The Nechako Watershed Roundtable (NWR) was formally launched in October 2015. It includes a broad membership of government representatives (local, regional, provincial and First Nations), stewardship groups, academic and research groups, and community members.

The NWR released the first phase of the Nechako Watershed Strategy in 2016, which lays out an (evolving) shared vision for the Nechako watershed. The Strategy communicates issues and concerns in the Nechako watershed; highlights current projects, plans and strategies being undertaken; proposes actions to address issues and concerns; and inspires commitments by various groups and organizations to implement proposed actions. The Strategy integrates compiled scientific information and baseline data, information from meetings among the NWR’s members, and dialogue with other government representatives, First Nations communities and organizations, and the general public. The NWR immediately began to implement the Strategy and its associated actions but struggled initially to secure sustainable funding. A funding shortfall in the first year of implementation forced the NWR to scale back its planned work. The NWR initiated dialogues about securing annual funding with the municipalities in the watershed. As of January 2018, six municipalities in the watershed have agreed to contribute to the NWR to implement the priority actions laid out in the Strategy. The NWR also plans to request funding from the provincial and federal governments and the private sector.

Learn More

Nechako Watershed Health Report (2015)

Nechako Watershed Health Atlas