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Application of regional planning to the control of water quality : a case study of the Province of British Columbia Linn, Hilareon Dewell

Abstract

The need for conservation of existing water resources in countries which are experiencing rapid urbanization and industrialization becomes quite obvious when one considers the tremendous increase in demand for water as the standard of living rises and as new uses for water evolve. The problems which may arise from lack of recognition of the need for planned utilization of water resources, and the development of means to cope with these problems once they have developed, are exemplified in the case of the highly urbanized and industrialized Ruhr Valley in West Germany. The U.S.A. has reached the stage of recognition of problems which arise out of water pollution and has recently embarked on the development of means to resolve existing and potential problems. Canada will undoubtedly follow this experience very closely. There is a multiplicity of uses for water for domestic and industrial purposes and the range of these uses is rapidly expanding. This vast and increasing range of beneficial uses often results in conflicts whereby, since the degree of water quality differs for different uses, overuse for one purpose may limit the use for another purpose. To alleviate this situation it is sometimes advantageous or even necessary to determine a hierarchy of use priorities for the various available water supplies. The hypothesis of this study is that: Adverse physical conditions resulting from water pollution, which impede satisfactory urban development, can be minimized by implementation of appropriate legislation and policy at the regional level. The management of water resources, including the control of water quality, since they are so vital to such a large range of uses by man, must be planned on a comprehensive basis. The basis of the planning should be an attempt to attain the goals and objectives established by the planner according to his estimation of the needs and desires of society. These goals and objectives will be most satisfactorily realized by the development of a plan and policy for water quality control, and implementation of that plan through the performance of a logical series of operations within the planning process. Within the Province of British Columbia there are about thirteen agencies, at the Federal, Provincial, and Municipal levels of Government, which have the legal power to control water quality. This multiplicity of controlling agencies creates overlaps in jurisdictions which may result in inactivity in the imposition of control by these agencies which may unduly rely on each other to exercise their powers. The Pollution-control Board, one of these agencies, was established through the Pollution-control Act in 1956 to resolve these problems of overlapping jurisdictions. The Board has not been successful in becoming a single, competent, authoritative agency responsible for the control of water pollution within the Province of British Columbia, for the following reasons: 1. It is not fully representative; 2. It has not established water quality and effluent standards criteria; 3. The education program is too limited; 4. It has insufficient budget and staff; 5. The jurisdiction of the Board does not include the whole Province; 6. There are ambiguities in the Act; 7. Insufficient power is given to enforce the Act; and 8. Administration of the Act does not commence at a small enough level of government. It is suggested that the Board may become the effective unified agency for the control of water pollution in British Columbia if deficiencies under the Act are rectified and if an efficient administrative structure is developed. The proposed administrative structure consists of a Development Board, with representation from the three levels of government, established within each Regional District. Existing and proposed Regional Districts would have to be altered to coincide with river-basin drainage systems or sub-basins in order to make this framework practicable. It is concluded that with some relatively minor alterations in the existing legal and administrative organization, the desired means of control of water pollution in the Province of British Columbia can be satisfactorily achieved. This substantiates the hypothesis which formed the basis of this study.

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