An Update on Provincial Water Strategy Progress

Just in case you missed it, on December 22, the provincial government released a report on the New Brunswick Water Strategy, providing some details on progress made over the past three years on the government’s 29 action items. 

You’ll remember that the province-wide strategy was released in December 2017. The Conservation Council was heavily involved then, in its development, and now, by regularly updating members and interested organizations on key developments and maintaining pressure on government take actions where there is little public-facing evidence of movement. 

I was heartened to hear from Environment and Climate Change Minister Gary Crossman, who said in the pre-holiday press release that the government is dedicated to protecting water quality, and when he said, “we have completed many actions in the water strategy and will continue to fulfil those commitments.” (My italics).

The new report is well worth a read. There is good information there on items you’ve read about in previous EcoNews stories, including: 

  • The implementation of a recreational water monitoring program at provincial park beaches;
  • A reminder about the 2020 report on the state of water quality in New Brunswick’s lakes and rivers; and,
  • A section on the Shediac Bay Watershed Management Plan, released in 2021.

Other checkmarks can be placed beside these action items:

  • There is more accurate wetland mapping;
  • There are new guidelines to help ensure consistent decision-making and transparency in wetland protection;
  • There are three new online water quality data portals to make information more accessible; and,
  • The department released a comprehensive report on drinking water quality in public water systems owned by local governments in the fall of 2021. 

My key takeaways? 

  1. There has been significant progress on the actions in the strategy that relate to collecting, updating and releasing very critical water-related data. 
  2. There is less progress to report with respect to important actions like changing water quality criteria from guidelines to regulatory requirements, and in developing a legislative framework for watershed-based protection planning or new policies to protect our important coasts. Those items are key, and the department’s progress report acknowledges that, saying the work has started.

Some recommended links for you:

  • You can read the progress report here.
  • The department’s press release is here.
  • This handy timeline gives you a visual reminder of the strategy’s history.
  • Finally, my summary of the Conservation Council’s 2021 freshwater protection work can be found here.

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