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“Critical factors in the adaptation of the water system for the Vancouver region
with a focus on drinking water and hydroelectricity institutions and their
stakeholders.” Student:
Gerard Cowan, MSc Environment and Resource Management,
VU University Amsterdam
1st Supervisor:
Professor Pier Vellinga, IVM.
2nd Supervisor:
Florrie De Pater, IVM.
Word Count: 20,935
Abstract: The temperature in Vancouver, Canada is expected to rise by approximately 2.5° to
3°C by the 2050s, causing changes to precipitations patterns that will have an impact
on water resources in the region. This thesis project looks at the critical factors in the
adaptation to climate change of the hydroelectric and drinking water systems in
Greater Vancouver, Canada. This incorporates an in-depth literature review of
material from the institutions and bodies controlling these systems, as well as
academic literature, and literature from stakeholders. In addition, detailed semistructured interviews were conducted with actors from the relevant institutions and
stakeholders in the area in order to gather information on the adaptive capacities of
these sectors.
The vulnerabilities to climate change were divided into two groups. Firstly, the
physical impacts of climate change on the Greater Vancouver region, and what they
mean for both of these sectors. Secondly, the adaptive capacity of the institutions
governing these sectors, in order to highlight institutional vulnerabilities to the
future challenges of climate change.
The information from these processes was used to build up a picture of the overall
adaptive capacity of the hydroelectric and drinking water systems using ‘adaptive
capacity wheels’ as a form of analysis. Once the two adaptive capacity wheels were
developed, it was possible to highlight vulnerabilities that these systems may
encounter in their efforts to adapt to the impacts of climate change.
It was found that the drinking water system and the hydroelectricity system had
different levels of adaptive capacity. This was as a result of the differing ways in
which they were governed and the underlying power structures within these sectors,
which caused critical factors in areas as diverse as access to resources, the authority
of actors and institutions to take adaptation measures, leadership, and public
With these critical factors identified, recommendations were then made as to how
actors and institutions within the two sectors could change their governance,
working methods, access to resources and institutional roles in order to improve
their adaptive capacities.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1:
Page 5
1.1: Introduction and Problem Definition
Page 5
1.2: Research question and sub-questions
Page 7
1.3: Structure of the Thesis
Page 8
Chapter 2: Methodology and Key Terminology
Page 9
2.1: Methodology
Page 9
2.2: Literature Review
Page 9
2.3: Interviews
Page 9
2.4: Adaptive Capacity Wheel
Page 10
Chapter 3: Background Information
Page 13
3.1: British Columbia and Vancouver
Page 13
3.2: Water Resources
Page 13
3.3: Hydroelectricity
Page 15
3.1: Key Institutions and Stakeholders
Page 17
Chapter 4: Climate Change Projections
Page 22
4.1: How Regional Climate Change Projections Are Made
Page 22
4.2: Uncertainty
Page 22
4.3: Probable Impacts of Climate Change
Page 23
4.4: Answer to Sub-Question 1
Page 28
4.5: Impacts of Climate Change
Page 30
4.6: Impacts on Rivers and Watersheds
Page 30
4.7: Impacts on Drinking Water
Page 31
4.8: Impacts on Hydroelectricity Sector
Page 33
4.9: Answer to Sub-Question 2
Page 35
Chapter 5: Theoretical Framework & Adaptive Capacity Scores
Page 38
5.1: Theoretical Framework
Page 38
5.2: Adaptive Capacity Scores
Page 40
5.3: Variety
Page 40
5.4: Learning Capacity
Page 43
5.5: Room for Autonomous Change
Page 45
5.6: Leadership
Page 48
5.7: Resources
Page 51
5.8: Fair Governance
Page 54
5.9: Final Adaptive Capacity Wheels
Page 58
Chapter 6: Final Adaptive Capacity Wheels & Analysis
Page 60
6.1: Analysis of Adaptive Capacity Wheels
Page 60
6.2: Answer to Sub-Question 3
Page 63
Chapter 7: Recommendations. Discussion and Conclusions
Page 65
7.1: Recommendations and Answer to Sub-Question 4
Page 65
7.2: Discussion
Page 68
7.3: Conclusions
Page 69
Page 71
List of Tables and Figures
Page 76
Page 77
Chapter 1:
1.1: Introduction and Problem Definition
The International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports show a consensus within
the scientific community that climate change is unavoidable. One of the biggest
challenges posed by climate change will be the affect it has on the world’s
hydrological cycle. Depending on the regional and seasonal variability, climate
change will either lead to an increase or a decrease in precipitation in different parts
the world (IPCC, 2007). Such changes will create issues for all sectors that are reliant
upon water resources.
Coastal cities like Vancouver may be particularly vulnerable to changes in
precipitation for a number of reasons. Firstly, the majority of the world’s population
now live in cities – a trend that is expected to increase for the foreseeable future, with
the population increasing in coastal cities at a greater rate than non-coastal cities
(Nicholls & Wong, 2007). Secondly, most cities are located in coastal areas, meaning
they will have to deal with the problems associated with sea-level rises. This adds to
their list of problems, since, on top of adjusting for changes to precipitation, they will
also have to adapt their planning strategies and flood defences (Betsill & Bulkeley,
2006, Ruth & Gasper, 2008). Thirdly, coastal cities are particularly vulnerable to
shortages of water because they contain a large amount of the world’s population, yet
only have access to a small proportion of the global supply of fresh water. Many
coastal cities already struggle with water shortages as present (Nicholls & Wong,
Increased precipitation at times of the year may cause flooding, damage to sewage
systems, and reduced water quality through the affects of urban pollutants and bio
toxins getting washed into watersheds (Ruth & Gasper, 2008). Additionally, at times
of low precipitation, coastal cities will be affected by droughts to a greater extent than
other areas due to the high demand for water and the phenomenon of the ‘urban heat
island effect’ which causes the urban area to be several degrees hotter than
surrounding areas (Corfee-Morlot, 2009). Globally, most of these vulnerabilities are
expected to increase over the foreseeable future since population growth is expected
to continue (IPCC, 2007).
It is imperative that these areas begin the process of adapting to climate change.
Corfee-Morlot identifies 3 reasons for this: 1) Climate change impacts manifest
themselves at a local level. 2) Local conditions determine the level of adaptive
capacity. 3) Adaptation measures need to be taken at a local level (Corfee-Morlot,
2009). One paradox that is revealed in the literature is that municipalities seem to
give more attention, and greater finances, to climate change mitigation than climate
change adaptation. This is unusual because an individual city can do very little to
alter climate change, yet they could do a lot in minimising the localised effects of
climate change (Granberg & Elander, 2007).
The effects of climate change will pose significant challenges for urban planners and
water managers. Ruth & Gasper argue that cities need to start planning for climate
change adaptation immediately, by increasing flood defences, water treatment
facilities and creating forms of governance with a higher adaptive capacity to climate
variables (Ruth & Gasper, 2008). Smit and Pilfosova warn that, although water
managers have traditionally been good at adapting to change, the traditional ways of
adapting may not be adequate for the novel problem of climate change (Smit &
Pilifosova, 2003). However, the ability to make these changes is heavily dependent
upon the institutional capacity, financial capabilities, form of governance, availability
of technology and legal powers of the institutions responsible for managing fresh
water supplies (Smit & Pilifosova, 2003).
Table 1: Reasons for early climate change adaptation:
1. Climate change cannot be avoid
2. Anticipatory
3. Unexpectedly severe and quick climate change is possible
4. There are immediate gains to be made from adapting to extreme
weather variables and atmospheric events
5. Early climate change adaptation can bring potential future benefits
This MSc Thesis focuses on the adaptive capacity of the fresh water resources of the
Vancouver region in Canada. Two of the main ways that the Vancouver region uses
its water resources are (1) for drinking water, and (2) hydroelectricity generation.
Research shows that the most critical problem climate change poses to these sectors
will come from changes to the hydrological cycle affecting the level of precipitation in
the region. Decreased water reserves could lead to a shortage of water at certain
times of the year, resulting in less hydroelectricity production, and shortages in
drinking water.
Therefore, Vancouver will provide a good case study for investigating how the
institutions and stakeholders in the drinking water and hydroelectric sectors could
increase the adaptive capacity of these two sectors within the water system in order
to get prepared for the possible effects of climate change.
In the following thesis, I have analysed key reports from the institutions governing
these two sectors and conducted in-depth, semi-structured interviews with fourteen
key stakeholders and actors in order to gain additional knowledge not found in
official reports. The information then garnered from these activities was then
synthesised and applied to an “adaptive capacity wheel” in order to establish a
holistic account of the strengths and weaknesses in the current adaptive capacity of
their institutions and the system as a whole. At this point, I then form conclusions
about what these key institutions and stakeholders can do in order to improve the
adaptive capacity of the system.
1.2: Research Question & Sub-Questions
Therefore, the research question is:
“In Vancouver, Canada how could the institutions and other parties and
organizations responsible for or involved in drinking water allocation
and hydroelectric production increase their adaptive capacity to prepare
for climate change?”
Sub Questions:
In order to answer this research question, I will also need to answer four additional
1. What are the critical impacts of climate change on the Greater Vancouver
Region that affect the fresh water resources?
2. How do the key institutions and stakeholders in the areas of drinking water
and hydroelectricity production perceive climate change adaptation as
impacting their sector?
3. What are the critical factors in the adaptive capacity of the hydroelectric and
drinking water systems that may undermine efforts to adapt these systems to
climate change?
4. What measures can be taken by the institutions involved in hydroelectricity
and drinking water in order to overcome both the critical impacts of climate
change, and their shortcomings in adaptive capacity?
1.3: Structure of the Thesis
After the introduction and problem definition in Chapter 1, Chapter 2 gives a detailed
description of the different types of methodology that were used to conduct the
interviews and form the adaptive capacity wheels for each sector. Chapter 3 gives
general background information that is of relevance for an analysis of both the
hydroelectric and drinking water systems in the Vancouver region of British
Columbia. This includes the identification of the key institutions and stakeholders
within the drinking water and hydroelectricity systems in the region, as well as a
description of their roles and responsibilities. In addition, I show the names and job
titles of the interviewees who took part in this study. Chapters 4 analyses the
projections for climate change in the British Columbia region by th2 2050s, and the
physical impacts that these changes will have upon the hydroelectric and drinking
water sectors. In Chapter 5, the data gathered during the interview process is used to
build up a picture of the overall adaptive capacity of the two sectors in question. This
data is then used to create the final adaptive capacity wheels that will be analysed in
Chapter 6 to establish the critical vulnerabilities in the governance of the two
systems. Chapter 7 contains recommendations as to how these institutions and
actors can help both sectors adapt to climate change. These recommendations
include both practical measures to mitigate the physical impacts of climate change,
and changes in governance that facilitate improved adaptive capacity. This is
followed by a discussion of the effectiveness of the research process and the
methodology that was applied, before I finish by drawing my final conclusions.
Chapter 2: Methodology & Key Terminology
This chapter highlights the methodology that will be used throughout the thesis to
answer the aforementioned sub-questions, and ultimately the primary research
question, followed by descriptions and definitions of key terminology that will be
often used within this thesis.
2.1: Methodology
My methodology contained several elements: (1) a review and analysis of academic
literature surrounding climate change adaptation and the governance of adaptation,
(2) a review and analysis of official reports from relevant institutions involved in the
hydroelectric and drinking water systems, (3) interviews with stakeholders and
institutional representatives from these two sectors, (4) the construction of adaptive
capacity wheels each system, and the synthesis of all these elements in order to find
their overall adaptive capacity.
2.2: Literature Review:
The literature review was done by consulting a mixture of academic texts by experts
in climate and climate change adaptation. The academic text was useful in building a
theoretical framework for analyzing institutions and the measures taken by them in
the Vancouver region. This enabled me to evaluate how individual policies of each
institution fitted into the overall system, thus helping me interpret this in academic
There was also a review of climate change projections presented by the Pacific
Climate Impacts Consortium (PCIC) and a review of the adaptation plans that each
institution and stakeholder is intending to carry out. Without knowledge of probable
impacts in the region, it becomes very difficult to suggest new policies. In addition, it
was essential to understand the concerns of each institution and stakeholder and see
what they are currently doing, or planning to do, in order to adapt to climate change.
2.2: Interviews:
Once the relevant stakeholders and institutions had been identified, interviews were
conducted with a member of each one in order to better understand their concerns
about climate change impacts, what measures they wanted to take, and how they felt
adaptive capacity could be improved. I interviewed a total of fourteen actors from ten
different institutions that govern the drinking water and hydroelectric systems, as
well as representatives of NGOs to get a view from outside these sectors. A detailed
transcript of each of these interviews can be seen in the appendix. These interviews
were in-depth, semi-structured and tailored to whatever institutional representative
was being interviewed. The interviews were then used, along with the literature
review, to build up a detailed picture of how the relevant institutions operate, what
their concerns are, how they interact with each other, and where their strengths and
weaknesses lie.
2.3: Adaptive Capacity Wheel:
The adaptive capacity wheel was designed to assess the adaptive capacity of a society,
institution or system in a holistic manner. Typically, adaptive capacity wheels are
used to facilitate the transition from top-down forms of governance to more bottomup or horizontal decision making processes which are more flexible to change
(Munaretto & Klostermann, 2011). The literature on the nature of institutions shows
that they tend to be conservative and resistant to change – only changing when it is
absolutely necessary. This is for a variety of reasons including political power, the
difficulty in drafting formal rules, and conflicts of interest in maintaining current
institutional arrangements and structures (Gupta et al, 2010). There are six broad
categories that inform the level of adaptive capacity or an institution or system. The
six categories are:
Learning Capacity
Room for autonomous change
Availability of Resources
Fair Governance (Gupta et al, 2010)
These six categories each have three sub-categories that give a more detailed account
of each individual category. In total there will be eight-teen sub-categories. Although
the original adaptive capacity wheel, designed by Gupta et al had twenty-two subcategories, I decided to reduce the number of sub-categories for two reasons. Firstly,
the sub-categories that were abandoned were not seen as essential for the purposes
of this research. Secondly, by giving three sub-categories to each category it meant
that each sub-category has equal weighting in the overall capacity wheel.
Figure 1 shows the default capacity wheel that was designed for this research. As can
be seen, each of the six categories in adaptive capacity is incorporated around the
central ring, with the outer edges containing the more specific sub-categories.
Through an information gathering and interviewing process, each of these categories
was assigned with a colour that corresponds to a score on a scale between a negative
effect on adaptive capacity and a positive effect on adaptive capacity. In the final
stage, an overall colour is given to the entire adaptive capacity of the institution. This
process highlights areas where the institutions can improve their policies,
methodology and decision making processes in order to achieve a higher adaptive
capacity through integrating all aspects of governance into a single indicator.
During this project, the adaptive capacity wheel was used as the main indicator to
asses if the drinking water and hydroelectricity systems have a good adaptive
capacity or not. These results were then used to identify critical vulnerabilities
caused by the governance of these systems, and also enabled me to suggest solutions.
(Figure 1: Default Adaptive Capacity Wheel)
2.3: Definition of Key Terms:
An institution is not only a physical political body, it can more broadly be defined as
a system of rules, procedures and social norms that guide actors working within and
outside the institution as to what they should do. Institutions can be both formal and
informal, ranging from laws to social practices and norms. The primary aim of an
institution is to provide a stable and predictable framework in which activities can be
carried out (IDGEC, 1999). I have chosen to use this broad because this report not
only analyses the political bodies controlling drinking water and hydroelectricity
production, but also the laws, regulations and acts which frame how they operate,
and either help or hinder them in their capacity to adapt to climate change.
Adaptation is classified as any action taken throughout society by individuals,
institutions or governments with the aim of reducing the impacts of climate change
(Adger et al, 2005). Adaptation can fall into two broad categories, anticipatory or
Anticipatory adaptation actions are long-term measures that are taken to mitigate
future problems. These can range from infrastructural changes to policy changes
(Smit & Pilifosova). Anticipatory actions are generally more cost-effective than
reactive actions. However, they are only possible if long-term climate projections are
available. It is possible that anticipatory action may be taken to combat a problem
that does not materialise in the future, resulting in the loss of money that may have
been used for other purposes. Therefore, anticipatory adaptation generally only
constitutes a minority of adaptation actions, since decision makers find it difficult to
spend large amounts of money adapting to problems that are still surrounded by
uncertainty. The actions that may be taken depend on the social or economic value of
what is at stake, and the degree of uncertainty surrounding the projections.
Conversely, reactive adaptation actions are those taken when the impacts of climate
change are already manifesting themselves. The literature finds that in practice
decision makers prefer reactive adaptation to the anticipatory approach, and this will
probably constitute the most common form of adaptation measure (Smit &
Pilifosova, 2003). Policymakers often favour reactive adaptation because they do not
require long-term climate projections as the effects of climate change are evident and
adaptation measures are therefore easier to determine (Kern & Alber, 2008).
Chapter 3: Background Information
The aim of this chapter is to provide background information about Vancouver and
the water resources in the Vancouver region. The governance of the drinking water
and hydroelectricity sectors is described and the key stakeholders and institutions
within these sectors are identified, as well as the names and job titles of the
representatives from those stakeholders who were interviewed within the research
process of this thesis.
3.1: British Columbia and Vancouver
British Columbia is a province on the west coast of Canada, and is known for its mild
climate by Canadian standards. The Metro Vancouver region is economically vital for
BC, given that half of the entire GDP of the province is produced in this one region
(Corfee-Morlot, 2009). Metro Vancouver is comprised of twenty-one municipalities,
and has the role of administering many of the vital resources and services in the
region. One municipality in Metro Vancouver is the City of Vancouver, which
contains 578,000 people and provides 378,000 jobs. The city is densely populated,
so 59% of people live in apartments due to the lack of space for house building (Mills,
2011). The population of the entire Metro Vancouver region currently stands at 2.3
million people. This population is growing at a rate of 35,000 people per year, a
trend that is expected to continue for the next few decades at least. (Metro
Vancouver, 2011a).
Although Canada has a federal form of government, the governance in the country
can be surprisingly top-down, from the national to the provincial, regional, and then
municipal level. The provinces have autonomy over many of their own policies, but
still must comply with national laws, policies, regulation and legislation.
A top-down approach to governance is particularly prevalent within the history of
environmental governance in Canada. Bauer & Steurer believe the national
government frames how regions and municipalities collaborate, as well as the
thematic and geographical scope of their enquiries. Fundamentally, the national and
regional governments control and set the agenda during collaborative processes,
whilst local governance institutions are seen as the “target” for adaptation activities
(Bauer, 2012, Bauer & Steurer, 2012).
3.2: Water Resources
Over half of the population of British Columbia get their water from the three
Greater Vancouver watersheds; the Coquitlam (20,461 hectares), the Seymour
(12,375 hectares) and the Capilano (19,535 hectares) (BCTWA, 2008). All three
reservoirs were originally constructed for the purposes of water storage, although
since then, BC Hydro has acquired the rights to use the runoff from these watersheds
to generate electricity (BCTWA, 2008). The water contained within these watersheds
comes from precipitation during the winter and snowmelt from the mountains in the
summer. Figure 2 shows the Capilano, Seymour and Coquitlam watersheds, which
supply the drinking water for the district of Vancouver.
The water contained within these watersheds comes from precipitation that lands on
the mountains surrounding the watershed. During the summer, when precipitation
rates are lower, the main source of water comes from the melting of snow pack and
glaciers in the mountains, which then flow into the reservoirs as water.
(Figure 2:
The drinking water system in the greater Vancouver area is the responsibility of
Metro Vancouver and is run by the utilities committee and the comptroller of water
rights for the region. The body within Metro Vancouver responsible for maintaining
the water infrastructure and distributing the water to customers is the Utilities
Committee, which is one of the bodies contained within Metro Vancouver. The BC
Ministry of Health authorities are the provincial body with oversight regarding the
quality of the drinking water. The administration of this provincial governance is
conducted by Public Health Engineers and Medical Health Officers who monitor
aspects of the drinking water system that may affect public health by enforcing the
Provincial Water Act and the Drinking Water Protection Act.
Within the region, Metro Vancouver operates water supply and treatment facilities,
whilst the local water distribution systems are owned an operated by the municipal
authorities at a local level (Metro Vancouver, 2010). If Metro Vancouver wants to
alter the drinking water system they must first inform the BC Ministry of Health
authorities. On the municipal level, drinking water-related decisions are made by the
municipal authorities (GVWD).
3.3: Hydroelectricity
Over 95% of the power used in Vancouver comes from hydroelectric dams. Figure 3
shows the locations of the watersheds in the greater Vancouver region where
hydroelectricity is generated, as well as the locations of the generators and
substations that create and distribute the electricity for the region. As with the
drinking water system, the mountains to the north of Vancouver are the location of
the freshwater resources that power the region.
(Figure 3:
The provincial government of British Columbia owns BC Hydro, with its operations
overseen by the BC Ministry of Energy and Mines and the BC Ministry of Forests,
Lands and Natural Resources. BC Hydro has rights to hydroelectric energy
production in all the main reservoirs shown above. Figure 4 shows how BC Hydro
produces and distributes the hydroelectricity from reservoirs in the BC region. The
force of the water contained behind the dam is used to turn turbines within a
generator that turns this hydraulic power into electricity. This accounts for 90% of
the entire electric output created by BC Hydro ( The electricity is then
transmitted to substations via a series of over-ground cables, where it can be
transformed into a lower voltage suitable for domestic use. At this point, it is then
transmitted to customers through a series of distribution lines.
As a Crown Corporation, BC Hydro has a lot of autonomy from provincial
authorities. The Ministry of Energy and Mines can create broad policies and
implement legislation surrounding energy generation in the province, but the
interpretation of legislation and the precise details of policies are created by BC
Hydro. The Ministry’s primary role is oversight, rather than direction intervention in
the working methods of BC Hydro (Interview 9).
(Figure 4:
3.5: Key Institutions and Stakeholders
During the course of my research, a total of fourteen stakeholders were interviewed
from ten different institutions. In this section, each of these institutions is briefly
described, along with the name and role of the stakeholder that was interviewed as a
representative of their institution. This is followed by a table summarising these
institutions and showing the level of governance for each institution.
British Columbia Ministry of Environment:
Under the BC Water Protection Act, the provincial government has proprietary
rights to all surface water and ground water. The Ministry of Environment has a role
in the future planning and management strategies in its Water Stewardship division.
There are several important roles that the Water Stewardship Division plays in this
regard: They must develop regulatory policies to ensure sustainable water
stewardship, manage water rights through water licensing and regulation over
private water use, and gather water data that supports future planning and policy for
other departments. In addition, under the Water Utility Act, they must ensure that
both community and private supplies of water are safe and reliable without excessive
expenditure (Ministry of Environment, 2008).
Jenny Fraser, Climate Change Adaptation Specialist.
British Columbia Ministry of Health
The BC Ministry of Health, under the Drinking Water Protection Act, is responsible
for ensuring that the citizens of BC have access to safe drinking water. The Drinking
Water Action Plan lays out the principles by which they operate. These include
ensuring water comes from clean, safe sources, assessing water systems to determine
risks to public health, ensuring adequate water treatment and distribution systems
are in place, monitoring the safety standards of tap water and ensuring that drinking
water is delivered at an affordable price.
David Fishwick, Drinking Water Manager.
British Columbia Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource
Since 2011, regional operational responsibilities have been passed from the Ministry
of Environment to the new Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource
Operations. Under the Water Utility Act, these responsibilities include water
licensing, management of streams, source water protection, groundwater monitoring
and protection. Additionally, under the Water Protection Act and Clean Water Act,
they must monitoring the quality and quantity of water to ensure adequate resources
for business and the public.
Glen Davidson, Director and Comptroller of Water Rights.
Metro Vancouver:
Metro Vancouver is known as a “regional district” and is comprised of 21 municipal
authorities. As a regional district, Metro Vancouver has the power to deliver regional
services on behalf of all member municipalities (Metro Vancouver, 2010a)
Its main areas of responsibility are utilities, regional growth, air quality and parks.
The utilities that Metro Vancouver is tasked with operating are the essential “core
services” of drinking water, sewerage and drainage and solid waste management
(Metro Vancouver, 2011b).
The Metro Vancouver Utilities Committee is contained within Metro Vancouver and
oversees maintenance, distribution and water quality in the Metro Vancouver region.
They must ensure that their service complies with the Provincial Water and
Drinking Water Protection Acts that are enforced by the BC provincial health
Councillor, Marvin Hunt, Vice Chair, Board of Directors.
Mayor, Darrell Mussatto, Chair, Utilities Committee.
Pacific Climate Impacts Consortium
The Pacific Climate Impacts Consortium (PCIC) is the regional climate service centre
for British Columbia and it is based in the University of Victoria. They provide
regional climate change projections and advice to stakeholders. The Province of
British Columbia established the PCIC in 2005 in order to bridge the gap between
academic climate scientists and the stakeholders. The BC Government plans to
continue funding the PCIC in the long term ( Regional projections
from the PCIC have already shown been useful for stakeholders in the water sector.
In 2006, BC Hydro became the first major institutional stakeholder to make use of
the PCIC when it contacted them to make future stream flow projections for the key
watersheds in the BC region, and since then many other institutions have
approached the PCIC for assistance (Schnorbus & Rodenhuis, 2010). All the major
provincial and municipal government authorities use the PCIC projections in their
reports when assessing climate change impacts.
Arelia Werner, Hydrologist.
City of Vancouver:
The City of Vancouver is the largest municipality within Metro Vancouver. It is also
the economic heart of British Columbia. Under the terms of the Vancouver Charter,
the City of Vancouver authorities must build and maintain the infrastructure that
delivers water to the inhabitants of the city.
Peter Navratil, Manager of Waterworks Design.
Tamsin Mills, Climate Change Adaptation Planner.
British Columbia Ministry of Energy and Mines:
The Ministry of Energy and Mines is responsible for ensuring that BC has an
adequate amount of energy to meet its needs. Under the Clean Energy Act (2010),
they must ensure that they “generate at least 93% of the electricity in British
Columbia from clean or renewable resources and to build the infrastructure
necessary to transmit that electricity” and that BC reaches the goal of total electricity
self-sufficiency. Hydroelectricity forms a significant part of their portfolio of energy
sources, and BC Hydro is by far the biggest producer of this form of energy, given
that it has rights to the runoff from all the major watersheds in BC. An important
part of their role in the hydroelectricity sector is to, under the BC Hydro Public
Power Legacy and Heritage Contract Act, ensure BC Hydro are producing their
energy in a sustainable way, and that the energy is priced at an affordable rate for
citizens of the province.
Sue Bonnyman, Director, Generation and Regulation, Electricity Policy.
Scott Cutler, Electricity Policy Analyst, Electricity and Alternative Energy
BC Hydro:
BC Hydro is a Provincial Crown Corporation, meaning that the province of BC is the
owner and sole shareholder in the company (Rother & Avis, 2009). The BC Minister
of Energy and Mines has oversight on the operations of the company and provides
the policy framework in which they conduct their business. The internal governance
of the company is orchestrated by the Board of Directors (Doyle et al, 2011). BC
Hydro is the third largest electric utility provider in Canada and serves 95% of the
population of British Columbia through its electricity generation capacity of
11,000MW of electricity. It also provides electricity to the commercial and industrial
sectors in the region. 90% of the company’s electricity is generated through
hydroelectric dams. Under BC legislation, BC Hydro must provide the province with
efficient, reliable electricity that is environmentally and socially responsible (Doyle et
al, 2011).
Brenda Goehring, Corporate Environment and Sustainability Manager.
Stephanie Smith, Manager, Hydrology & Technical Services.
British Columbia Tap Water Alliance:
The British Columbia Tap Water Alliance was founded in 1997. It consists of a
collection of community and environmental organisations in the Vancouver region.
Members monitor the political processes and policies surrounding the water supply
and watersheds in the region. They advocate that the water resources in the region
should be protected from exploitation and ensure that the environment surrounding
the watersheds, and the people who rely on the water from these watersheds, should
have access to clean and safe drinking water. In order to achieve these goals, they
focus on raising public awareness around these issues and making the case for better
federal and provincial legislation to protect watersheds in the region.
Will Koop, Coordinator.
Squamish Climate Action Network:
The Squamish Climate Action Network is a non-profit NGO consisting of volunteers
from the region who aim to raise public awareness about taking steps towards
creating strategies for the region to both mitigate and adapt to climate change. They
focus on education, transportation, food, energy, waste, and water. They try to work
with the government in raising awareness about water use amongst the population,
oppose water privatisation and seek to influence government policies on future water
Krystle TenBrink, President.
Ministry of Environment
Ministry of Health
Ministry of Forests, Lands
and Natural Resource
Jenny Fraser
David Fiskwick
Adaptation Specialist
Drinking Water Manager
Glen Davidson
Director and Comptroller
of Water Rights
Ministry of Energy and Mines
Ministry of Energy and Mines
Metro Vancouver
Metro Vancouver
City of Vancouver
City of Vancouver
Service Providers
BC Hydro
Service Providers
BC Hydro
Service Providers
Pacific Climate Impacts
British Columbia Tap Water
Squamish Climate Action
Director, Generation and
Sue Bonnyman
Regulation, Electricity
Scott Cutler
Electricity Policy Analyst
Vice Chair, Board of
Marvin Hunt
Mayor, Darrell
Chair, Utilities
Manager of Waterworks
Peter Navratil
Climate Change
Tamsin Mills
Adaptation Planner
Corporate Environment
and Sustainability
Manager, Hydrology and
Stephanie Smith
Technical Services
Arelia Werner
Will Koop
(Table 2: Interviewees, Stakeholders and Institutions)
Chapter 4: Climate Change Projections
This chapter will show the projected climate changes in the province of British
Columbia and the changes that may occur to the hydrological system. Before
describing how the climate is expected to change in the BC region, I feel it is
important to briefly describe how these projections are formulated, and the degree of
uncertainty involved.
4.1: How regional climate change predictions are
The main public body responsible for making the regional climate change predictions
for BC is the Pacific Climate Impacts Consortium. The PCIC begin their projections
by using the global climate models that were used by the IPCC and linking them with
regional climate models for BC through a process known as “downscaling” in order to
achieve a higher spatial resolution. Essentially, downscaling is the process of trying
to “distil as much small-scale information out of global climate models as possible
(Burger, et al, 2012)”. The primary data for downscaling comes from measurements
of temperature, precipitation and wind speed in weather stations that are dotted
around the BC region. This data is used to build up models of current and historical
climate in the region. This step is vital because without historical data from these
stations, it is impossible to identify an empirical relationship between large-scale
changes in the climate and variables in the weather for the local region (Murdoch
and Spittlehouse, 2011). By projecting expected climate changes into the future,
downscaling experts can calculate what changes may occur in the region’s climate,
and bridge the gap between global changes and local effects (Burger, et al, 2012).
Although they cannot yet give precise levels of impacts, downscaling is a good way of
knowing which problems are likely to occur.
4.2: Uncertainty
However, it must be recognised that there is still a degree of uncertainty surrounding
future climate projections. Lindseth notes that, although downscaling techniques are
improving, there is still uncertainty about the results of this process, which mean it is
difficult to make precise predictions about localised effects (Lindseth, 2005). There
can be uncertainty about the historical data that is inputted into the regional climate
models, due to the fact that many of the observation stations have only been in
operation for a relatively short period of time and they are unevenly placed in sites
throughout the region (Schnorbus & Rodenhuis, 2010). In addition, Thissen argues
that there is also uncertainty about the speed of climate change, due to many social
variables such as the effectiveness of mitigation strategies, economic development
and technological and social changes to human society (Thissen, 2012).
The problem of uncertainty may never be entirely overcome, even as downscaling
techniques improve. However, in recent years, the governance of climate change
adaptation has seen a movement away from looking for the impacts of climate
change and a movement towards looking at vulnerability to climate variation. This
means adaptation is much more policy-driven, focusing on the vulnerability and
sensitivity of existing infrastructure and systems of governance (Lindseth, 2005).
Within this new paradigm, projections of future climate change still serve a useful
purpose in highlighting potential threats, but the problem of uncertainty is
somewhat mitigated because adaptation now means having to adapt to, and be
flexible towards variability.
During the interview with Werner (Interview 6) from the PCIC, it was stressed that
the PCIC’s primary job is to use a wide range of data and models in order to provide
managers, engineers and policymakers with a range of possible future outcomes. It is
then up to them to create policies that account for the uncertainty on the one hand,
and the risk of impacts on the other. Therefore, adaptation is more about
establishing a range of possible impacts from climate change, and changing the
adaptive capacity of institutions in order to increase flexibility (Corfee-Morlot,
2009). Flexibility and resilience can be seen as the ability of actors within the
systems to increase their learning capacity and build more robust strategies (Thissen,
2012). Essentially, climate change projections still play an important part in building
adaptive capacity, but they do not need to be totally precise. Adaptive capacity is
about being flexible and resilient in the face of a variety of problems.
4.3: Probable Impacts of Climate Change
In this section, I will look at the most likely changes that will occur to the weather
system in BC as a result of climate change.
Temperature Changes:
It is interesting to note that BC has already seen changes in temperature throughout
the past century. Research shows that over the past century the mean temperature in
has increased by approximately 0.2°C per decade. However, the change in
temperature has not been uniform. Maximum temperatures have been increasing at
a slower rate than minimum temperatures. As the PCIC state, “temperatures in BC
are becoming less cool, rather than warmer (Schnorbus & Rodenhuis, 2010)”. As
climate change begins to take hold, these changes have been accelerating over the
past couple of decades, and are particularly evident during the winter months. Figure
5 illustrates how, between 1971 and 2004, this trend has accelerated during the
winter months, do a must greater degree than it did between 1951 and 2004, or 1901
and 2004. The conclusion here must be that the last three decades of the twentieth
century saw a quicker increase in average temperature than during the seven decades
before. As can be seen in the graph, this is particularly evident during winter,
although there is still an effect in summer and fall as well.
(Figure 5: Schnourbus & Rodenhuis, 2010)
Figure 6, prepared using the same PCIC data, shows a raster map illustrating where
the increasing temperatures are most likely to be evident. As one can see, the greatest
increases in temperature are likely to occur in the mountainous regions surrounding
Metro Vancouver. High temperature increases are also anticipated for the inner city,
thereby exacerbating the ‘heat island’ effect.
(Figure 6: Rother & Avis 2009)
Figure 7 shows how these changes
will be distributed throughout the
seasons. The winter will see the
greatest increases in temperature,
especially in the more inland areas
where water is stored in snowpack,
where it may rise by between 3°C and
4.5°C. During the summer, those
regions will see less of an increase in
temperature, but the more southern
regions near the city of Vancouver
will see 2.5°C to 3.5°C increase in
(Figure 7: Zwiers et al, 2011)
Table 3 gives a more accurate assessment of these changes, taking into account the
minimum, median and maximum changes in temperature during the four seasons
for the 2050s. The most striking thing about this table is the changes to maximum
temperatures. During all four seasons, the maximum temperature is expected to rise,
with an annual average of 3.7°C. These projections show that maximum
temperatures in the 2050s could lead to droughts in summer or fast-melting
snowpack during the winter. In addition, the median changes in temperature are still
significant also, with an annual average of 2.3°C expected to have large effects on the
(Table 3: Zwiers et al, 2011)
Changes in Precipitation:
Over the past few decades, BC has been experiencing changes to the form and
seasonal distribution of precipitation. Over the past 50 to 100 years, total annual
precipitation has increased by 20% (Rother & Avis, 2009). However, the seasonal
distribution of precipitation has been changed. This has been particularly evident
during the winter months, as Figure 8 demonstrates. One can see that, between 1971
and 2004 the winter months have seen precipitation decrease dramatically between
1971 and 2004, whilst spring and summer have seen slight increases in rainfall.
(Figure 8: Schnorbus & Rodenhuis, 2010)
(Figure 8: Schnorbus & Rodenhuis, 2010)
The form of this precipitation has also changed. Whereas the mountains used to
receive precipitation in the form of snow during the winter months, they are now
receiving more of it in the form of rain. This also contributes to the reduction in the
amount of snow stored in mountainous regions and will have complications for water
resources. The change towards water-based precipitation is another effect of the
increasing temperatures, and as with temperature, this trend is expected to continue
into the coming century due to climate change.
The PCIC estimates that precipitation will increase by between 13% and 14% by the
2050s (Schnorbus & Rodenhuis, 2010). The spatial distribution of this precipitation
can be seen in Figure 9. In the previous section, it was shown how temperature
increases are expected to be most evident in mountainous regions above the city. The
causal relationship between higher temperatures and reduced snowfall means that
precipitation is more likely to fall as rain than snow. Werner of PCIC referred to the
retreat of the snowpack as the loss of the “biggest natural reservoir” in the region
(Interview 6).
(Figure 9: Rother & Avis, 2009)
Figure 10 shows how these
throughout the seasons. As can be
seen, the more inland and
mountainous regions are to
expect increased precipitation of
between 10% and 25% during the
winter, yet during the summer the
increases will be much more
modest. In contrast, the more
southern areas, and the city of
Vancouver can expect little
change to rainfall during the
winter, but a drop in rainfall of
between 10% and 20% during the
(Figure 10: Zwiers et al, 2011)
(Figure 10: Zwiers et al, 2011)
Table 4 gives a more detailed picture of changes to the minimum, median and
maximum precipitation throughout the four seasons in the 2050s. Minimum
precipitation will remain broadly the same during winter, spring and fall. Yet
summers may get extremely dry as there is a 21% decrease in precipitation. Median
precipitation is expected to increase by 12% or 13% during the winter, spring and fall,
yet there will still be a slight fall in precipitation in summers. The trend seems to be
towards drier summers and more precipitation during the rest of the year – although
we must also again keep in mind that the precipitation is more likely to be rainfall
during winter (Interview 1).
(Table 4: Zwiers et al, 2011)
4.4: Answer to Sub-Question 1:
At this point, sufficient information has been gathered from the analysis of both the
literature and of stakeholder and institutional interviews to provide and answer to
Sub-Question 1 of this thesis. To recap, the question was:
“What are the critical impacts of climate change on the Greater Vancouver Region
that affect the fresh water resources?”
This sub-question is split into two separate parts, which are summarized in the two
tables below. Table 5 details the overall effects of climate change in the Greater
Vancouver Region by the 2050s, while Table 6 shows how these changes in the
hydrological systems will affect the water resources in the region.
TABLE 5: Critical Impacts of Climate Change in the
Greater Vancouver Region:
Temperature increases of between 2.5C and 3.5C by the 2050s
Shorter, wetter winters
Longer, hotter summers
Rise in maximum temperatures throughout year
TABLE 6: Impacts of climate change on the water
resources of Greater Vancouver:
Increase in strength and frequency of water shortages
Increase in total annual precipitation
Change in seasonal distribution of precipitation
More precipitation during winter
Less precipitation during summer
Less snowfall and more rainfall
Loss of snowpack
Snowline moving to higher altitudes
Snowmelt earlier in the year
Changes to stream flow in rivers
Stream flow higher in winter
Stream flow lower in summer
4.5: Impacts of Climate Change
When the expected climate changes occur in the Vancouver region, they will have a
number of affects on the effects on fresh water resources. The two main ways that
freshwater resources will be affected are in terms of hydroelectric energy production
and drinking water quality and quantity. Changes in temperature and stream flow
are expected to challenge the existing management policies for reservoir operations,
and a new balance will have to be struck between flood control, water allocation and
hydroelectric power production (Schnorbus & Rodenhuis, 2010).
4.6: Impacts on Rivers and Watersheds
This section will look at how climate change will affect the water flow in the rivers
that fill the watersheds in the Vancouver region. Research conducted by the PCIC,
shows that rivers in British Columbia will be vulnerable to changes in discharge
throughout the year because of climate change (Zwiers et al, 2011). Together, the
Capilano, Seymour and Coquitlam Watersheds account for 94% of the water used in
Greater Vancouver (Webster, 2009). Climate change projections have not yet been
made for the Seymour, Coquitlam and Capilano Rivers, which supply each of these
watersheds respectively. However, data has been collected by the PCIC concerning
changes in discharge levels in other rivers within BC. Werner of the PCIC (Interview
6) corroborates this in her interview, pointing out that rivers throughout the region
will generally see higher discharge during the winter, but lower discharge during the
summer. These projections have also been reiterated by many of the interviewees
who work in the water sector in the region.
Figure 11 shows how the flow of the Campbell River is projected to change by the
years 2041 to 2070. In Graph A, the black line represents the historical seasonal flow
for the years 1961 to 1990, whilst the blue line represents what the flow will be from
2041 to 2070. As can be seen from the historical data, the discharge from the
Campbell River normally decreased gradually between the winter months from
November to March. Then the discharge would increase steadily from March to June,
coinciding with the melting of snowpack at high elevations. The summer months of
June to September would then see a sharp decrease in discharge due to a
combination of less rainfall, and most of the snow pack having melted. Then, the
months of September and October would seen a sharp rise in discharge as
precipitation caused yet more water to flow through the river.
Upon looking at the future projected data, there are several charges to the historical
trends. Graph B illustrates these very effectively by showing the differences in
discharge throughout the year. Between October and mid-April we can actually see
that climate change will lead to an increase of discharge in the river – peaking at
50m3/s in mid-January. In contrast, the summer shows an extreme drop in the
discharge of the river. Of one looks again at Graph A, it can be seen that the shortage
of water will be evident throughout the summer, and particularly in the late-July,
August and September.
(Figure 11: Zwiers et al, 2011)
4.7: Impacts on Drinking Water
This section will use analysis from the interviews with institutions and stakeholders
on the provincial, regional, municipal and NGO level to highlight what they see as the
main impacts climate change will have on them. 31
Water Shortages
Across all levels of governance, the most consistent concern that was mentioned was
the risk of extreme weather events leading to shortages of water in the region. The
Comptroller of Water Rights for the province is tasked with managing how water is
allocated to different sectors and for differing needs. In his interview he highlighted
that, in the future, dry periods will be longer and more frequent. He is concerned that
the current provincial Water Act is not designed for future conditions of this kind,
and that water shortages may become a bigger problems because, during extreme
events, there are not the legal structures in place to prevent people from wasting
water on less essential tasks such as washing cars of watering their gardens
(Interview 3). These water shortages are again a concern of the Metro Vancouver
governing bodies, and are similarly highlighted by the Chairman of the Utilities
Committee for the region (Interview 5). At the city level, there are worries that Vancouver may have a more pronounced
exposure to these risks. The City’s manager of waterworks design feels that the
region does not currently have adequate storage capacity to cope with events of this
magnitude, which could create severe shortages of water for the largest city in the
region, with a growing population and a likelihood of the urban heat island effect
strengthening in the future (Interview 7). Water Quality:
Changes in the quality of water are of concern to the BC Ministry of Health, who are
tasked with enforcing the Drinking Water Protection Act. Fishwick argues that these
changes will cause health concerns in two ways: Firstly, there are fears of water
shortages, and secondly, increased turbidity from heavier precipitation may
overwhelm the ability of treatment plants to adequately treat the water. In addition,
increased temperatures may lead to algae blooms in watersheds, causing toxins in
the water and therefore increasing the costs of water treatment (Interview 2). During
the winter months, the increased water runoff could cause landslides that wash
sediments, biotoxins or other harmful substances into the drinking supply (Mills,
Currently, during the spring and summer months, much of the water supply filling
the reservoirs comes from the melting of the glaciers and snow pack in the
mountains surrounding the city. Since there will no longer be as much water stored
in this location, there will be a reduction in quantity of water available for the city,
particularly in the late summer, when all the snow has melted and reservoirs
decrease (Mills, 2011). In addition, summers are expected to become longer and
hotter, which mean the population of the city will demand a larger amount of water
than they currently do (Mills, 2011). If adequate water resources are not available, it
could lead to potential health problems for residents of the city (Metro Vancouver,
Increased Infrastructure Costs
Across all the institutions that were interviewed, one of the most common concerns
was the impact of climate change upon the infrastructure costs for the water system.
There are a number of ways in which costs are expected to increase. This is further
exacerbated by the fact that much of the infrastructure of the water system is difficult
to change, taking a lot of time, planning and money to do so (Interview 3). In
addition, it is expected that it will become more difficult to find the money for these
adaptation measures, since it is not just the water system that will be impacted:
Sewage, flood barriers, building and many other areas are also expected to need to
adapt, which leaves less money available for any one particular sector (Interview 4,
Interview 5, Interview 8).
Metro Vancouver charges for water based upon what season it is. Seasonal pricing is
in operation because there is a lower water flow in reservoirs during the summer
than during the winter. In addition, Metro Vancouver find there is a higher demand
for water during the summer months, due to higher temperatures (Metro Vancouver,
2010b). There are two types of water rate. Firstly, there is the rate that municipalities
pay to acquire the water – in this case the City of Vancouver. And secondly, there is
the rate that the City of Vancouver charges to its customers once the cost of the local
infrastructure has been factored in. During the winter, the rate the Metro Vancouver
charges the City of Vancouver is $0.45 per cubic metre. During the summer – the
months June to September – that rises to $0.56 per cubic metre. The City of
Vancouver then charges residents and business in the municipality $0.70 per cubic
metre in the winter and $1 in the summer months (Metro Vancouver, 2010b). The
increased infrastructure costs are likely to get passed onto the consumer in the form
of higher water costs. Davidson points out that the actual water only makes up a
small amount of the cost of water. The real expense comes from the expense of
gathering, treating and transporting the water to consumers (Interview 3).
4.8: Impacts on Hydroelectricity Sector
This section highlights the ways in which climate change will impact upon the
institutions and stakeholders within the hydroelectric system. This will entail a
detailed analysis of the available literature, as well as the interviews conducted with
provincial, regional and municipal institutions and stakeholders.
Changes in timing of energy generation
Climate change will have implications for the reliability of hydro-electricity
production (Mills, 2011). With a lower flow during the summer months, and a higher
flow during winter months, the projections for energy production on the Columbia
River will change from their current state. It is anticipated that hydroelectric
production may increase by approximately 4% during the winter, but decrease by
13% to 16% during the summer by the 2040s. On aggregate, the annual reductions
are calculated by the PCIC to be between 2.5% to 4% (Schnorbus & Rodenhuis). Even though minimum temperatures are expected to rise making it less necessary to
have central heating turned on, Vancouver will still have an increased annual
demand for electricity during the winter due to its growing population. During the
summer, the demand for energy will increase as the higher temperatures means
people will need to use air conditioning systems more often. Shifts in the future
seasonal energy demands can be seen in Figure 12. As can be seen, the future
generation of hydroelectricity follows the same basic pattern as the projections for
river discharge. The 2040s and 2080s show a modest increase in the amount of
energy that can be generated between November and May, whilst there is a large
shortfall in energy production during the summer months of June, July and August,
as the discharge from the rivers is lower. On the BC Hydro level, the manager of hydrology and technical services suggests that
there may be a small increase in hydroelectricity productions across the province
annually. The main concern for her is the changes in the timing of precipitation. She
views this as possible grounds for changes in the management of their watersheds,
yet she admits that they have not yet conducted detailed studies into these affects
(Interview 11).
(Figure 12: Schnorbus & Rodenhuis, 2010)
Unreliability of future hydroelectric power
The two interviewees from the Ministry of Energy and Mines are concerned that
hydroelectric power may become less reliable due to the unstable future climate. In
addition, they highlight the possible unreliability surrounding future hydroelectricity
generation could be detrimental to British Columbia’s commitment to reduce GHG
emissions by 80% by the year 2080 under the Clean Energy Act (Interview 9).
Under the terms of British Columbia’s Clean Energy Act, 93% of the electricity
generated in the province must come from clean of renewable sources (Doyle et al,
2011). BC Hydro forecast that the demand for electricity could increase by
approximately 40% over the next 20 years. This forecast was made by examining the
drivers of demand in the residential, small business and industrial sectors of their
customer base (Doyle et al, 2011).
However, BC Hydro admits that their infrastructure is not currently equipped to
cope with a critical water event. If there were a year of extremely low rainfall, and
reservoir levels dropped, it would result in 4,000-5,000 GWh shortage in power for
the year. According to figures compiled by the Province of BC, this shortfall would be
enough energy to power between 360,000 and 450,000 average BC homes (Table 7).
(Table 7: Doyle et al, 2011)
4.9: Answer to Sub-Question 2:
At this point, there is now sufficient information to answer sub-question 2:
“How do the key institutions and stakeholders in the areas of drinking water and
hydroelectricity production perceive climate change adaptation as impacting their
The answers to how the key institutions and stakeholders in the sectors of drinking
water view the impacts of climate change are divided into two tables. Table 8 shows
the impacts on the drinking water sector, and Table 9 show the impacts on the
hydroelectricity sector.
TABLE 8: Impacts on Drinking Water System
Extreme droughts increasing in intensity and frequency
Water shortages during the late-summer period
Vancouver City more vulnerable to these problems due to
…………………large and growing population
Decreased water quality:
a) Turbidity and sediment
b) Algae blooms
Increased water treatment costs
Increased infrastructure costs
Higher water prices due to infrastructure costs
TABLE 9: Impacts on the Hydroelectricity System
Campbell River will have significant decrease in generation
Changes to the timing of energy generation:
a) Slightly more in winter
b) Less in summer
Extreme events causing unreliability of energy generation
Province and region may miss Clean Energy Act targets
Chapter 5: Theoretical Framework for and Adaptive
Capacity Scores
The goal of this chapter is twofold; (1) creative a theoretical framework for adaptive
capacity and what constitutes a successful adaptation measures using the academic
literature, and (2) assign the drinking water and hydroelectricity sectors with scores
on their adaptive capacity wheels using information gathered from stakeholder
The theoretical framework will be used to build up a picture of why adaptive capacity
is important, and what criteria can be used to assess the success of adaptation
measures. Each category on the adaptive capacity wheel will begin with a brief
definition, followed by a brief justification of how each sector got its particular score
on the adaptive capacity wheel using evidence from the stakeholder interviews.
5.1: Theoretical Framework:
Adaptive Capacity:
Adaptive capacity is the ability of a system or institution to adjust its methods,
techniques or internal structures in order to adapt to the impacts of climate change.
The adaptive capacity of a system is dependent on a variety of factors, including
available finances and resources, learning capacity, information, and expertise or
networking capability (Brooks & Adger, 2005).
Institutions that have a high adaptive capacity are well equipped in all these areas.
They encourage a variety of opinions from actors, enable institutional learning, allow
actors to adjust their behaviours in a flexible manner, have strong leadership, and are
effective at mobilizing their resources. In addition a system with high adaptive
capacity conducts its operated in an equitable manner that provides for those most
vulnerable to climate change (Gupta, et al, 2010, Nicholls & Wong 2007).
Criteria for successful adaptation:
Adger et al point out that establishing criterion by which to measure successful
climate change adaptation can problematic. An action taken to satisfy one particular
objective could inadvertently lead to harmful externalities that damage adaptive
capabilities in previously unknown ways (Adger et al, 2005). Nevertheless, a broad
understanding of what constitutes successful adaptation is possible. The three
categories recommended by the literature are effectiveness, efficiency, and
1. Effectiveness:
This criteria can at times be measured directly, for example in terms of added
capacity to drinking water volume, but in many cases it is difficult to directly
measure due to how one action interacts with other variables within society
over a long time frame (Adger et al, 2005). Over long time frames, there are
many unknown variables such as what the world will be like in the future in a
physical, social and economic sense. For example, if there was a strategy put
in place that was effective, but expensive; there is no guarantee that the future
society will have the financial resources to continue with it. Additionally, a
measure that is effective in the short-term could have harmful effects over the
long-term. Or, a measure that helps one institution may cause harm to the
adaptive capacity of another.
2. Efficiency:
The efficiency of an adaptation action can be measured in terms of costs and
benefits. The distribution of cost should find the correct balance between
public and private costs to correspond with the rate of public or private
benefit. The benefits that derive from an action should be proportional to the
amount of time and money spent on it (Adger et al, 2011).
3. Equity:
Equity is also seen as an important measure of successful adaptation. Those
who gain and those who lose from an adaptation decision or climate change
impact should not reinforce the current inequalities between people or groups
within society. If climate change adaptation serves to worsen these
vulnerabilities, then risk cannot be seen as equitably distributed (Adger et al,
Policy Integration:
Policy integration is the process by which new adaptation policies are incorporated
into the existing set of policies in order to boost adaptive capacity. Policy integration
can happen in a number of ways depending on the governance structures of the
system in question. However, broadly speaking, there are two types of policy
integration: horizontal and vertical.
Vertical integration is hierarchical, where institutions with the most power use
command and control tactics to change the policies of institutions at a lower level.
Typically, this is a linear process, where low-level institutions have little input into
the policies of those institutions at the top (Bauer et al, 2011). This type of policy
integration is normally encountered in top-down systems of governance that contain
strong hierarchical structures.
Horizontal policy integration is much more of a collaborative, network-based
approach. Stakeholders, interest groups and institutions existing at either similar or
higher levels of governance come together to discuss, collaborate and compromise
when forming new policies and strategies (Bauer et al, 2011). The process of
adaptation can encounter a variety of social and technical problems, ranging from
social resistance, weak governance and ineffective institutional arrangement, to a
lack of technical knowledge and capability (Agrawal, 2008). Horizontal policy
integration is a good way of avoiding these problems because the concerns,
information and expertise of these different actors can become part of the
policymaking process. This less hierarchical, approach is regarded as raising the
adaptive capacity of systems because the concerns and information from institutions
and stakeholders are taken into account; leading to policies and strategies that can
work on a variety of institutional levels and spatial scales (Gupta et al, 2010,
Munaretto & Klostermann, 2011).
‘No-Regrets’ Measures:
Since anticipatory measures are preferred over reactive measures, it is imperative
that anticipatory measures are “no-regrets” measures. A no-regrets measure is any
policy that is implemented now and that satisfies the three criteria of effectiveness,
efficiency and equity in both the short-term and long-term. These measures combat
the uncertainty inherent in local and regional climate projections because, even if the
projections turn out to be incorrect, these measures have still caused benefits that
improve the system irrespective of climate change impacts. Urwin and Jordan argue
that new policies should be designed to cope with the short term, but which facilitate
the long-term adaptive process (Urwin & Jordan, 2008, Smit & Pilifosova, 2003).
In addition, these no-regrets measures may actually lead to unforeseen benefits in
the future, although it is noted that very little research has been conducted into this
(Berrang-Ford, 2011). Therefore, one of the central goals of this thesis is to explore
no-regrets measures that will help the drinking water and hydroelectric systems
benefit irrespective of climate change impacts.
5.2: Adaptive Capacity Scores
In this section, the drinking water and hydroelectricity sectors will be given a score
for each of the criterion on the adaptive capacity wheel, along with a short
5.3: Variety
The category of Variety attempts to determine if institutions in the region have
collaborated by taking a wide variety of actors and stakeholders into account when
forming policy. The three sub-categories for Variety are (1) Diversity Solutions, (2)
Problem Frames, and (3) Multi-Actor, Level and Sector.
These sub-categories are deemed important because the literature suggests that
multi-level governance is essential if a system is to effectively adapt to climate
change. Actions taken at one level of governance may affect what happens on another
level and plays a part in determining the outcomes of an adaptive process (Bulkeley,
2010). A variety of problem definitions and frames are vital because those at
different levels of governance or in different institutions may have a different
conception of what the primary risks form climate change are. If policies are
formulated by one sector, or level of governance, yet those necessary for
implementation are not capable of doing so, then the policy will be ineffective.
Therefore, it is necessary for all levels, and institutions to communicate and create
policies that are appropriate and can be effectively implemented (Kern & Alber,
2008). Effective climate change adaptation policies can only be achieved by
integrating the top-down and bottom-up perspectives and provide a range of
opinions, insights and policy options (Urwin & Jordon, 2008).
Drinking Water Sector
Multi Actor, Level and Sector: 1
Within the drinking water sector there is a generally good level of consultation
between other institutions from different sectors, and levels of governance. However,
the institutions and actors who worked together were generally within the official
governance structure, with little consultation of NGOs outside of the governance
framework of the water sector (Interview 12). Therefore, whilst it is positive that a
wide variety of actors are consulted within the sector, this could be improved by
broadening the scope of participation.
Problem Frames: 0
A consequence of the fact that most consultation involves actors who are embedded
within the governance institutions means that the variety of problem frames is
somewhat limited. The scope of enquiry is not broadened out to include actors from
outside of this sector. When interviewing NGOs, they noted that the governing
institutions for advice rarely approach them. Instead, they feel they must approach
those institutions and attempt to force their way into the debate (Interview 12).
Municipal bodies can be more approachable on these issues, but it can be difficult to
persuade actors at the provincial level to consider different problem frames
(Interviews 12 & 13). This means that many valuable opinions and pieces of
information are missing from the process.
Diverse Solutions: 1
Given that the variety of sectors and problems frames is limited by the neglect of
opinion from outside the water sector, it is inevitable that problem solutions will also
be limited. Analysis of the interviews shows that, whilst those within the industry do
have good solutions – including building new reservoirs, conservation methods and
further climate change projections – there is sometimes a lack of insight from other
important actors and institutions.
Overall score for Variety: 1
Hydroelectric Sector
Multi Actor, Level and Sector: -1
The governance of the hydroelectricity sector tends to be more top-down than the
drinking water sector. There is little collaboration with regional or municipal
institutions, since BC Hydro is controlled by the provincial Ministry of Energy and
Mines, therefore bypassing institutions at lower levels. Outside bodies tend to have
less input because of BC Hydro’s standing as a semi-privatized Crown Corporation
(Interview 12). The actors that are most successful at breaking into this process tend
to be lobbyists from industry, who can put their views across to the provincial
authorities, but NGOs find that they tend to get ignored (Interview 13). Sue
Bonnyman reveals that at times, Ministers at a high level of authority have the power
to take action, without telling or consulting with any other actors, institutions or
stakeholders (Interview 9).
Policy Frames: -1
As a result of this, the problems associated with climate change tend to be framed in
a technical way, where the lack of storage capacity is viewed as the main problem for
the sector (Interview 9). NGOs frame the problem as partially the result of the
privatization of water resources, since BC Hydro is able to lease the rights of their
water to companies that are 100% private – at which point the public control over
that resource is lost. However, this is not a problem frame that BC Hydro or the
Ministry of Energy and Mines tend to consider (Interview 13).
Diverse Solutions: -1
As with the drinking water sector the variety of institutions and actors that are
consulted has a direct impact upon the diversity of the solutions that are proposed.
As a result, solutions are very technical in their nature, relying mainly on the skills
and abilities that are found within BC Hydro and the Ministry of Energy and Mines.
This may be a result of BC Hydro’s status as a province-wide service provider –
therefore bypassing more localized concerns – and the added fact that, as a semiprivatized body, it does not need the same level of support as a public body would.
Overall score for Variety: -1
5.4: Learning Capacity
The category of Learning Capacity is essentially a measure of the capacity of
institutions within the relevant sectors to learn from past experiences and apply new
information in order to form stronger policies for the future (Gupta et al, 2011). The
gathering and sharing of new knowledge and evaluation of past policies helps in the
process of creating more flexible and robust policies for the future and increases the
effectiveness of decision making across the different levels of governance and shows
the capacity that these institutions have to change and adapt to new conditions
(Bulkeley, 2010).
Learning Capacity is broken down into three sub-categories: (1) Prior Learning, (2)
Openness to Uncertainty and (3) Institutional Memory. Openness to Uncertainty is a
measurement of how open the institutions are to the possibility that the information
and policies in current use may not be up to standard. Institutional Memory is the
extent to which institutions monitor and evaluate their policies with the aim of
improving them. Examples of Prior Learning are when institutions within the
systems have analyzed prior policies, seen where their weaknesses lay, and adapted
their policies to increase their efficiency and effectiveness.
Drinking Water Sector
Openness to Uncertainty: 2
Overall, it was found that the actors and institutions in the governance of the
drinking water sector were very open to uncertainty. Werner points out that actors
within the water sector are traditionally good at dealing with uncertainty. If the PCIC
give a vague future projection, they are able to tailor their water management
strategies a few percent on either side of this projection in order to account for
uncertainty (Interview 6).
However, there are times when their openness to uncertainty can actually be a
hindrance to taking action. The Comptroller of Water Rights agrees that water
management techniques can cope with uncertainty, however he cautions that large
infrastructural changes are very difficult to make with uncertain future projections
(Interview 3). This view was echoed by Councilor Hunt (Interview 4).
Institutional Memory: 0
The institutional memory of the governing institutions in drinking water tends to be
somewhat mixed. On a positive note, they do tend to monitor the effectiveness of
their policies and, because most of the bodies are accountable to the public, they tend
to receive feedback about their policies. On the negative side, most water
management policies are not up for reevaluation. They favor small, conservative
changes rather than changing to entirely new policies (Interview 3). Davidson sums
this up by saying, “we are not pro-active in monitoring polices, we are more likely to
react to what is happening instead (Interview 12)”.
Prior Learning: 1
Due to the patchy nature of the monitoring and evaluation of policies, there tends to
be a lack of learning within the sector. Nevertheless, a new Water Sustainability Act
is in the process of being drawn up. Part of this Act will be to integrate increased
flexibility into the management structures of the water sector in order to account for
increased seasonal variability and climate change (Interview 1). This demonstrates
that the governance system can change in light of new information.
Overall score for Learning Capacity: 1
Hydroelectric Sector
Openness to Uncertainty: 2
Actors within the hydroelectricity sector tend to be traditionally good at working with
uncertainty when it comes to management strategies (Interview 6). In addition, the
PCIC provide BC Hydro with a good range of future climate change projections that
can be integrated into working practices (Interview 10). Overall, the openness to the
uncertainty of the impacts of climate change appears to be very good, and the
engineers and managers within BC Hydro are capable of incorporating uncertainty
into their policies.
Institutional Memory: 0
The monitoring and evaluation of policies within the hydroelectricity sector is the
responsibility of the Ministry of Energy and Mines. They conduct annual reports on
BC Hydro, evaluating and suggesting changes in policy or strategy (Interview 9). This
monitoring tends to be effective, however within BC Hydro itself, it can be difficult to
get monitoring and evaluation of policies tailored towards climate change. Smith of
BC Hydro remarked that the organizations can suffer from “institutional inertia”,
whereby actors within the organization are used to working a certain way and are
resistant to change (Interview 11). As a result of these factors, institutional memory
for the hydroelectric system at the provincial level tends to get cancelled out by a lack
of it within BC Hydro.
Prior Learning: -1
As a result of the aforementioned institutional inertia, there is an absence of
examples of prior learning (Interview 11). Interviewees from BC Hydro found that it
can be very difficult to engrain long-term climate change resiliency into planning
processes for the future. As a result, decisions – such as where to place a new
transmission line – are made that may have to be reversed as the previously
unconsidered impacts from climate change become apparent (Interview 10).
Overall score for Learning Capacity: 1
5.5: Room for Autonomous Change
The category of Room for Autonomous Change measures the extent to which
institutions and actors within a system can change their plans or initiate new policies
in order to take the appropriate actions in adapting to climate change. It is important
that problems can be addressed at the correct level, and that the institutions and
actors best suited to taking these measures have the ability and authority to do so
(Gupta et al, 2011).
This category is broken down into the three sub-categories of (1) Access to
Information, (2) Act According to a Plan and (3) Ability to Improvise. Access to
Information is important because, in order to create effective and efficient policies,
institutions must have access to the appropriate data. The ability to Act According to
a Plan is a measurement of the ability or actors within institutions to have the
authority and expertise to implement new policies, procedures and plans. A policy or
plan will only be effective, if it can be correctly implemented. When new information
is acquired, it may at times be vital that actors within institutions have the Ability to
Improvise according to what this new information is telling them. If new information
leads to lengthy new decision-making processes, then the adaptive capacity of an
institution is compromised. Instead, adaptive capacity is improved if actors within
institutions have the ability and authority to innovate, improvise and create new
plans as new information and data is made available.
Drinking Water Sector
Access to Information: 2
Almost all the actors who were interviewed were of the opinion that the information
they had access to was the best information available, regardless of their sector of
level of governance. The reason for the high quality of the information is the PCIC.
All the institutions involved in the adaptation of the water sector have access to the
projections of the PCIC and use it when contemplating adaptation policies (Interview
The only negativity that was expressed was frustration that there is still uncertainty
surrounding the possible impacts of climate change, making it difficult to draw up
plans and policies in advance of these impacts (Interview 3 & 4). Nevertheless, these
negative comments do not detract from the fact that they have access to the most
accurate projections that are currently available.
Act According to a Plan: -1
One common problem is that actors within institutions have still not got effective
plans for what to do about climate change impacts. Most plans are still at a very early
stage of development and it is unclear whether or not they can implement these
plans effectively. The two biggest barriers that have been encountered in this
category are institutional (rules, constitutional barriers) and legal constraints (laws,
acts) that prevent them from taking action (Interview 3).
Another factor is that implementing effective plans, particularly in the event of an
extreme weather event, will require the cooperation and collaboration of many
different actors and sectors as well as different levels of governance and it does not
seem that these lines of communication are well developed. Frequently, interviewees
spoke of a lack of support from other institutions (Interviews 7, 5 & 4). In addition,
other sectors such as the Ministry of Health still have vague plans on climate change
adaptation that have not been integrated into the plans of other institutions
(Interview 2). Given the complexity of the overall system of drinking water
governance, the ability to coordinate a plan appears rather low at present.
Ability to Improvise: -2
There seem to be a variety of constraints placed upon the institutions that will need
to take action on climate change. Davidson argues that the provincial Water Act is
now outdated and needs to be revised because it is rigid about the amount of water
that is allowed to be allocated to any single sector (Interview 3).
Municipal authorities find that they are faced with a large bulk of the impacts from
climate change, yet the power to take action is either at a provincial or regional level
(Interview 7). TenBrink, argues that, whilst municipal authorities are better
positioned to tackle water shortages, they are limited by what they can do under
provincial authority (Interview 13). These problems on the municipal level are
exacerbated by the difficulty inherent in changing laws. Bylaws are only updated
every five years, and when new scientific projections become available, the law is
slow to adjust accordingly (Interview 8).
Overall, it appears that the democratic and legal accountability of institutions creates
a barrier to the ability of institutions to be flexible to new scientific projections and
climate change impacts.
Overall score for Room for Autonomous Change: -1
Hydroelectric Sector
Access to Information: 2
Actors within the hydroelectric sector are positive about their access to information.
However, they were negative about the uncertainty of current information and felt
that if more accurate projections could be given, then it would be easier to draw up
adaptation plans. The range of projections and impacts can make it difficult for them
to know what they should adapt to, and therefore difficult to prioritize measures that
should be taken (Interview 4 & 9). The information used by the Ministry of Energy
and Mines and BC Hydro also comes from the PCIC, and as a general rule the
interviewees felt this information was of a high standard and their only complaint
was that it was not possible to get more accurate projects.
Act According to Plan: 1
Given that the hydroelectricity sector has fewer institutions of governance, it appears
that there is a greater ability for the relevant institutions to take coordinated action.
The Ministry of Energy and Mines and BC Hydro seem to have good lines of
communication between them, and whilst the Ministry may create a broad policy for
the sector, BC Hydro has the freedom to interpret and implement that policy as they
see fit (Interview 9). The high degree of control and autonomy that BC Hydro has
over the sector means that they only have to manage their own personnel, making it
easier to develop and implement action plans.
Ability to Improvise: 1
Due again to the smaller number of actors and institutions involved in the
hydroelectric sector, there is a better ability for relevant institutions to improvise.
Most measures will be implemented by BC Hydro and they do appear to have enough
autonomy to make changes to water management (Interview 10) .
However, these abilities are countered by two factors. Firstly, BC Hydro and the
Ministry of Energy and Mines are limited in what they can do under provincial laws.
Even the Ministry does not have the authority to neglect complying with provincial
policy because their actions may affect the jurisdiction of other ministries (Interview
Hunt described an example of these limited powers. He recalls that, for several years,
municipal authorities have wanted to install a new hydroelectric dam in the region in
order to generate more power and money for the area. BC Hydro was interested in
these plans, as was Metro Vancouver. However, their Letters Patent did not give
them permission to undertake the building of a new dam without provincial
approval. So far their appeals for the new dam have not been heeded (Interview 4).
Overall, the hydroelectric system appears to have a good ability to improvise in terms
of water and energy management, as well as the ability to increase the storage
capacity of the current dams. However, it is not within their authority to build a new
dam without appealing to the provincial government.
Overall score for Room for Autonomous Change: 2
5.6: Leadership
The category of Leadership is a measurement of the ability of leadership to instigate
long-term change, and reshape their institutions. The leadership of these institutions
must be Visionary; having a long-term vision for change and reform within their
institution, they must be Entrepreneurial; stimulating change from within and they
must work in a Collaborative way; encouraging different actors and departments
within the institution to work together to create adaptation policies (Gupta et al,
Drinking Water Sector
Vision: -1
A frequent complaint was that the vision within institutions tended to be short
sighted. Davidson called this “an inherent aspect of the political system (Interview
3)”. Since so many of the leaders of institutions at municipal, regional and provincial
levels are democratically elected, they tend to not think any further than one term
ahead (Interview 4). There is a tendency for the leadership to be inconsistent when it
comes to climate change adaptation. Whilst some leaders do take actions towards
adaptation, the leaders in other departments may not focus on these issues at all
(Interview 1).
The NGOs agreed that a lack of leadership tended to be a problem overall. However,
there was some praise for leadership at the municipal level. For example, the City of
Vancouver appears to have a leader with a long-term vision for how to adapt to
climate change, but at higher levels of governance this is not the case (Interview 13).
Overall, it appears that there is a lack of sustained visionary leadership, and visionary
leadership tends to come about more by chance than through design.
Entrepreneurial: -2
Similar problems exist with entrepreneurial leadership. It appears that there are
several constraints placed upon leaders who would like to take action on adaptation.
There are issues of authority, and institutional capacity that prevent entrepreneurial
styles of leadership from taking hold.
In addition, TenBrink claims that there is a lack of education and awareness within
institutions, which means any action on climate change is impaired (Interview 13). It
is difficult to find leadership within organizations that will actually instigate the
creation of new policies around climate change (Interview 6). As with vision, the best
entrepreneurial leaders seem to be concentrated at the municipal level, whilst the
awareness of climate change impacts is has not yet become mainstreamed
throughout the overall governance of the system (Interview 8).
In summary, the entrepreneurial leadership within the system is currently at a low
level. The roles, motives, authority and financial limitations of these actors tend to
prevent entrepreneurial action from occurring.
Collaborative: 0
Overall it was found that the leadership within the drinking water sector was
inconsistent when it came to collaboration. Within institutions, the level of
collaboration from leaders to actors appears to be good; however the collaboration
between leaders of different institutions appears vulnerable to changes in the
personnel at the top.
Leaders working on a regional or municipal level feel that the collaboration with
other leaders can be vulnerable to changes political and institutional objectives. For
example Metro Vancouver find that they have a good collaboration with leaders at a
municipal level, but at times collaboration with the provincial leadership can be
vulnerable for political reasons (Interview 5). For example, the NGO community
finds the new conservative governments at provincial and federal level do not make
climate change as much or a priority as the previous government, and consequently
do not collaborate with institutions and stakeholders at lower levels of governance
(Interview 13).
Overall, the effects of collaborative leadership appear to be negligible. Collaborative
leadership is good within institutions, but not as good between institutions. There is
a general lack of formal rules and codes that necessitate collaboration. Instead, it
appears leadership collaboration is dependent on the personalities and views of those
who happen to inhabit the leadership role at any given time.
Overall score for Leadership: -1
Hydroelectric Sector
Vision: 0
As was the case with the drinking water sector, long-term vision within the
hydroelectric system is also subject to the political cycle. Leadership from the
Ministry of Energy and Mines and the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural
Resource Operations are democratically elected, so they rarely have the ability or
motivation to look beyond their current term in office (Interviews 3 and 4). This is a
drawback, as it is difficult to create new plans and policies without long-term vision.
However, the leadership at BC Hydro does not have the same constraints. As a semiprivate company, the leadership of BC Hydro does not have to worry about politics or
elections and can therefore provide vision for adaptation plans. However, they are
still limited by the need to present annual financial reports and policy reports
progress to the Ministry of Energy and Mines for approval (Interview 9).
Overall, the vision within the hydroelectric system is limited. It is good within BC
Hydro, yet at the provincial level the authorities are hampered by politics.
Entrepreneurial: -1
More power for entrepreneurial leadership exists at the provincial level, but at the
lower levels it can be somewhat mixed. Within BC Hydro there tends to be a problem
with the leadership not stimulating change by educating their staff. Instead, the older
working methods are still in place, and which do not account for climate change
impacts (Interview 11). In addition, the leadership has the power to be
entrepreneurial within BC Hydro, but that can be limited by the need to make a
profit for each financial year. Due to other considerations, it can be difficult for
climate change to get noticed by the leadership, and as a result climate change
adaptation often slips down the list of priorities (Interview 10).
Collaborative: 1
Leadership collaboration is generally good within the hydroelectric sector. The
Ministry of Energy and Mines have good communication with BC Hydro, and BC
Hydro has good collaboration within the company. BC Hydro has a standard process
of consultation with different actors within and outside of the organization, which
normally leads to good collaboration. However Bonnyman recalls instances when
ministerial leadership has taken actions without collaboration with other people
within the ministry or with BC Hydro (Interview 9).
In summary, the level of collaboration tends to be fairly effective within the
hydroelectric system. There are formal systems of collaboration in place, however
there are cases when the provincial leadership circumvents these procedures and
makes unilateral decisions with seemingly little accountability.
Overall score for Leadership: 0
5.7: Resources
It is one thing to identify climate change impacts and create adaptation policies, but
another to have the resources to implement these plans. Part of the adaptive capacity
of institutions and systems is the extent to which they can generate or acquire
adequate resources to fulfill their goals (Gupta et al, 2011). There are three subcategories to the category of Resources. Authority evaluates whether the institution
tasked with the implementation of a specific policy has the legal or political mandate
to adapt to climate change. Human resources are the extent to which institutions
have people with the necessary knowledge, expertise and skill sets to create and
implement adaptation policies. Financial resources are whether the institutions can
access or generate enough money to carry out policy measures.
Drinking Water Sector
Financial: -2
Throughout the interview process, the most frequently cited barrier to taking timely
adaptation measures was financial constraints. This manifests itself in a number of
The most prescient impacts from climate change are going to be felt on a municipal
level. It appears that municipal authorities will need to take most of the action of
adapting things like local water management plans and local water deliverance
systems, yet the money is not in place to allow them to do so.
The Metro Vancouver actors do not feel that they get enough funding for the large
infrastructure projects such as new dams and filtration plants that will need to be
undertaken. For example, Metro Vancouver recently developed a new water filtration
plant that cost $800 million. Only $15 million of the $800 million was donated by
the provincial and federal governments combined; whilst the rest of the money had
to be provided by Metro Vancouver. Future projections show that more filtration and
treatment plants will need to be built or upgraded in the future. Hunt describes this
as a “huge financial hurdle to get through (Interview 4)".
A further financial problem comes from the collection and distribution of tax
throughout the province and the nation. For every dollar that is collected in taxation,
$0.08 goes to Metro Vancouver, $0.42 goes to the provincial government and $0.50
goes to the national government. This leaves Metro Vancouver with a severe shortfall
in funding, despite the fact that the region contributes over 50% of the GDP growth
for the entire province (Interview 5). Mussatto sums this problem up by saying that
“Metro Vancouver have the least financial means to deal with these climate change
adaptation issues, yet we have most of the demand for adaptation placed upon us
(Interview 5)”.
The lack of finance at the regional level leads to a lack of finance on the municipal
level. Mills describes how the province provides very little money at the city level,
despite the fact that the city is the financial heart of the entire province (Interview 8).
In the City of Vancouver, Navratil estimates that there is roughly a 15% to 20%
shortfall in capital at present. The city spends approximately $25 million per year on
development and maintenance of the water system, leaving them $5 million short of
what they need (Interview 7). As climate changes impacts appear, these expenses are
expected to increase.
The uncertainty surrounding the future impacts of climate change means that the
wide variety of other climate change impacts dilutes what little money there is for
climate change adaptation. Climate change will not only impact the water resources,
there are also fears about flooding, sea level rises, higher insurance costs and damage
to sewage infrastructure. All these problems will require financial support for
adaptation and that means that each individual sector finds they are not receiving
adequate funding (Interview 4).
Human: 1
Interviewees generally felt that human resources were of an adequate standard. They
felt they personnel with the correct skill sets and expertise to help the province and
region adapt to climate change. The only negative comments that were encountered
were in the City of Vancouver where they only had five engineers instead of the
desired seven (Interview 7).
Authority: -1
As the governance of the drinking water system seems to have most of its authority
focused at the provincial level, it was felt that institutions and actors at the provincial
and municipal level were constrained by their legal and institutional codes and rules.
TenBrink believes that the provincial and municipal authorities are in the best
position to prioritize and focus on the relevant issues, yet the concentration of power
at the provincial level was impeding this (Interview 13). Mussatto reflected that
Metro Vancouver were set standards for water treatment and quality under
provincial and federal legislation, and that Metro Vancouver is legally required to
meet these standards (Interview 5). This means Metro Vancouver has little ability to
set its own targets and financial constrains means that even if they had that
authority, they would not be practically able to reach them.
Overall score for Resources: -1
Hydroelectric Sector
Financial: 2
In contrast with the drinking water sector, the hydroelectric sector seems to have
good financial resources. In their 2011 Annual Report, BC Hydro recorded net profits
of $571 million for the 2010 to 2011 financial year (BC Hydro, 2011). This means they
have a large amount of capital resources in the event of rising costs associated with
climate change. In addition to this, they can increase the rates charge to the
consumer in order to generate more finance. They do still need approval from the
Ministry of Energy and Mines (Interview 9), but unlike the fixed levels of capital of
Metro Vancouver between budgets, BC Hydro can negotiate with the Ministry in
order to reach a satisfactory agreement.
Human: 1
The Ministry of Energy & Mines and BC Hydro seem to have good human resources.
They have a wide variety of engineers and managers with the correct skill sets to help
them adapt to climate change. In addition, the PCIC supplies god quality research
and climate change projections to inform the actions of those needing to adjust their
working methods to climate change impacts (Interview 11).
However a drawback is still that many of the people working at BC Hydro are still
relatively unaware of the impacts of climate change and how they should adapt their
working methods. For example, many long-term planners do not consider climate
change resiliency when making long term plans (Interview 10). This appears to be
somewhat of a drawback, and it may be necessary to educate existing staff or employ
more people with knowledge of climate change and adaptation strategies.
Authority: 1
Since there are only a few institutions governing the hydroelectric system, they do
tend to have quite a high degree of authority. BC Hydro, whilst having to abide by
provincial laws and legislation, can develop its own management strategies and make
projections for the future (Interview 11). The Ministry of Energy & Mines also has a
high degree of authority over most developments and has room to allow BC Hydro to
improvise with strategy to quite a large degree. However, there are times when
legislation does constrain what they can do. In these instances they would have to
appeal to the provincial authorities (Interview 9). Nevertheless, institutions
governing the system seem to have a good level of authority overall.
Overall score for Resources: 2
5.8: Fair Governance
The category of Fair Governance is included because the literature suggests that
successful governance relies in part upon how much it is accepted by the members of
society who will be affected by it (Gupta et al 2011). This category is divided into the
three sub-categories of (1) Legitimacy; where the relevant institutions have the
support of the public, (2) Responsiveness; to the concerns of the public, and (3)
Equity; where the institutions recognize and take account of those are who most
vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.
Drinking Water Sector
Legitimacy: 1
Municipal authorities, Metro Vancouver and the provincial ministers are all
democratically elected, which gives a good level of legitimacy to the governance
structure of the drinking water system. Avenues are open for the public to give
feedback about policies, thus increasing the legitimacy further.
The only negativity is that actors within the institutions still feel a level of public
ignorance and skepticism about climate change (Interviews 3, 4). Since Vancouver
receives such a large amount of rain, the public become very skeptical about the
danger of water shortages in the future, so it can be difficult to convince them of the
need to adapt (Interview 7).
Another form of skepticism comes from what is perceived to be the favorable
treatment given to people from within industry in comparison to ordinary citizens.
NGOs feel that industries such as agriculture, hydroelectricity and mining are able to
lobby the provincial authorities to shape regulations and legislation to suit their
needs (Interview 12). This has an impact on the legitimacy of the system of
governance as perceived by the public. However, despite these drawbacks, the
governance of the overall system seems to have a good degree of legitimacy in the
eyes of the general public.
Responsiveness: 0
The responsiveness of the governing institutions of the drinking water sector can be
somewhat inconsistent. The NGO community does recognize that municipal and
regional authorities seem to have noticed the high numbers of people now signed up
with NGOs and the level of public concern around climate change (Interview 13).
There also appears to be a good level of responsiveness at the municipal level.
Navratil describes how the City of Vancouver authorities have attempted to respond
to public skepticism of climate change with increased attempts at awareness and
education (Interview 7). In addition, given that most of these actors are
democratically elected, it is in their own interest to respond to public feedback
through fear of losing their positions.
However, NGOs have found that the provincial and regional governments are much
less responsive to public and NGO feedback (Interview 12 & 13). They feel their views
are either ignored or fall further down the list of priorities than issues such as job
creation, or lobbying by industries from different sectors of the economy. In
addition, there is also recognition from the regional level that responsiveness can be
slow and uncoordinated since Metro Vancouver is comprised of 21 municipalities
and sometimes public opinion differs from one municipality to another, making it
difficult for Metro Vancouver to respond to all feedback.
Equity: -1
From the top authorities down, protecting the most vulnerable people from climate
change does not take much priority. The water rights for British Columbia are given
out under the principle of prior appropriation, meaning that the first people to access
water resources can continue to use that amount, regardless of whether or not other
people need it more. This can end up with situations where water resources are going
to suburban areas where people use it for watering lawns or washing cars, instead of
to where it is most needed (Interview 3).
Within the regional institutions, there is no priority made to protect the most
vulnerable from climate change. Hunt says that “protecting the most vulnerable
people from climate change is simply not within Metro Vancouver’s mandate. Our
mandate is very utilitarian (Interview 4)”. The basic mandate of Metro Vancouver is
to supply services and utilities to the municipalities, but they do not prioritize any
specific group of people over others. Instead, everyone receives a similar level of
treatment irrespective of need.
It seems that equity is mainly the concern of municipal authorities, and there is
evidence that they are prepared to take action to protect the most vulnerable. For
example, the City of Vancouver has begun planning for their heat response initiative.
Perhaps the most vulnerable group in Vancouver is the City’s large homeless
population, so plans are being made to install temporary water fountains in public
spaces in the event of drought in order to provide easier access to water resources
(Interview 7).
Overall, the low consideration for equity was surprising. It appears that the only
institutions that have prioritized the most vulnerable are those at the municipal level.
Unfortunately, their funding is low, so it is questionable whether they can afford to
do all that is necessary to protect people.
Overall score for Fair Governance: 0
Hydroelectric Sector
Legitimacy: 0
Initially the hydroelectric sector seemed to have a good level of legitimacy in the eyes
of the public. The Ministry of Energy & Mines has a democratically elected Minister
and BC Hydro has its policies set by the Ministry of Energy & Mines (Interview 9).
This all gives the initial impression of a sector that the public should be happy with,
since there appears to be a good level of democratic oversight.
However, upon further analysis, there is a high degree of skepticism about the
legitimacy of the hydroelectric sector in the eyes of the public. Koop argues that the
legitimacy and accountability of BC Hydro and the Ministry of Energy & Mines has
been eroded over the past few decades (Interview 12). This is partially due to
lobbying by industries such as mining and logging, and partly due to the increasing
autonomy of BC Hydro, and the perception that the water resources in the province
are becoming increasingly privatized (Interview 13).
The result is that the overall result for legitimacy is negligible. There is a certain
amount of legitimacy, but it has been reduced over the past few decades.
Responsiveness: 0
BC Hydro are obviously a profit making company, so they have an interest in
responding to public feedback or else they may risk customers leaving them. Smith
points out that much of the adaptation action occurring within BC Hydro is not the
result of leadership from within the organization, but from pressure from the public
(Interview 11).
However, the responsiveness is not entirely positive. NGOs point out that at times
the bodies governing the hydroelectric system ignore the wishes of the public, opting
instead to satisfy the wishes of industry in the pursuit of profit, such as when some
water resources are contracted out to private companies that have no public
accountability (Interviews 12 & 13).
Equity: -2
Overall, equity is simply not a consideration of any of the institutions or actors within
the hydroelectric sector. It is not a part of the mandate of the Ministry of Energy and
Mines, nor of BC Hydro. For the Ministry of Energy and Mines, the main objective is
to provide save and sustainable energy to the people of BC, however they do not
prioritize specific groups who may be more vulnerable than others. For BC Hydro,
their central priorities are to meet renewable energy targets, provide enough energy
for the province, and make a profit at the end of each financial year. Issues of equity
do not appear to fall under their remit either. It appears there is very little
monitoring of the dangers of energy shortages or increasing energy costs to the
poorest people in the Greater Vancouver region.
Overall score for Fair Governance: -1
5.9: Final Adaptive Capacity Wheels
(Figure 13: Adaptive Capacity Wheel for Drinking Water)
(Figure 12: Adaptive Capacity Wheel for Drinking Water
(Figure 14: Adaptive Capacity Wheel for Hydroelectricity
(Figure 13: Adaptive Capacity Wheel for Hydroelectric
Chapter 6: Final Adaptive Capacity Wheels and
6.1: Analysis of Adaptive Capacity Wheels
The two final adaptive capacity wheels for the hydroelectricity and drinking water
sectors give some interesting results about the adaptive capacity of their respective
systems. The drinking water sector achieves a good score for variety. This is due
primarily to the obligations that actors and institutions have to consult with a wide
variety of other stakeholders. Since power and governance of drinking water is
divided between a number of groups, is essential that a range of actors are consulted
when framing problems and creating policy options.
In contrast, the hydroelectric sector scored poorly in this area. Given that fewer
institutions have power within this sector, it seems these institutions do not have the
necessity to consult with a wide variety of actors, institutions and outside bodies
when framing problems and forming policy options. In addition, there seems little
appetite do increase consultation, since the power within the sector is concentrated
within so few institutions.
As a result, one of the critical factors for the governance of the hydroelectric system
appears to be a low variety of problem definitions, problem solutions and
consultation. The effect of this may be that it will become difficult for the
hydroelectric sector to develop effective policies in the future because there is a
shortage of input from other bodies, and vital information and insights are lost or
Learning Capacity:
Both sectors achieved a good result for this criterion. They both scored well for their
openness to uncertainty. This is mainly due to the fact that actors within sectors
relating to water resources have always traditionally had to deal with the
uncertainties caused by weather variability. Therefore, they do not have difficulty
accounting for uncertainty in their work, even if the uncertainties get increased as a
result of climate change. The institutional memory of both sectors appears to be
rather negligible. The monitoring and evaluation of policies is quite inconsistent
within both sectors and is often difficult to change policies and practices that have
become established. Prior Learning in the drinking water sector was much better
than with the hydroelectric sector. There were good examples of new policies
resulting from past experience within drinking water (such as with the new Water
Protection Act), but this was not evident within hydroelectricity.
Overall, the two sectors appear to have scored well in terms of learning capacity, but
hydroelectricity only does well because its average score is improved by its excellent
openness to uncertainty. Therefore, another critical factor for the hydroelectricity
sector is the poor capacity to demonstrate prior learning. This may become a
problem as climate change impacts occur, since governing organizations may not
have experience of evaluating and altering prior policies.
Room for Autonomous Change
On this criterion the hydroelectric system scores very highly due to the large amount
of power concentrated within a small number of institutions. This grants them the
ability and authority to improvise according to new information and act according to
a plan they themselves have developed. In addition, the PCIC provide actors and
institutions in this sector with excellent information on future climate change
In contrast, the drinking water sector scores badly on this criterion. Like the
hydroelectricity sector, drinking water has the same access to PCIC data. However,
due to the wider dispersal of power and authority throughout the sector, individual
institutions have little power to improvise or implement an adaptation plan. This is
particularly evident with Metro Vancouver, which has the responsibility, but not the
authority or capability to autonomously take action to adapt to climate change.
The leadership within the two sectors is quite different. Whilst the leadership within
the hydroelectric sector encourages collaboration, it scores less will in terms of
entrepreneurship and vision. It is left to chance weather leaders in this sector will
have a long-term vision towards climate change adaptation. Another limiting factor
is the shortsightedness of leadership, who primarily worrying about annual profits
and not climate change impacts. In addition the entrepreneurial nature of the
leadership in hydroelectricity seems low.
The leadership problems are even more pronounced within the drinking water
sector. Collaboration does take place, but vision and entrepreneurship are poor. This
is mainly the result of the democratic process. Leaders in this sector worry about
getting reelected, and usually there is little attention paid to long-term problems
associated with climate change.
Therefore, a critical issue for the drinking water sector is weak leadership that does
not provide a long-term vision for the future. To improve adaptive capacity, solutions
will need to be proposed that encourage more effective and far-sighted measures on
climate change. Hydroelectricity is doing somewhat better in this regard, yet much
could still be improved.
Perhaps the biggest difference between the two sectors can be found in their access to
resources. The hydroelectric system does very well in this regard, mainly due to BC
Hydro having a lot of power and large annual profits, giving them a large financial
surplus. This means they have a good access to funding that can be put towards
adaptation measures.
In contrast, the drinking water system has a critical issue with not having the correct
authority to implement policies that may protect them from climate change. Again,
the need to consult and reach consensus provides a hindrance to taking action. The
biggest problem of all is the very poor access to financial resources. This is related to
how tax is collected and distributed nationally and within the province of British
Columbia. Of all the critical factors, I estimate this to be the most pressing concern
for the drinking water sector.
Fair Governance
Since the drinking water sector is democratic, whilst the hydroelectric sector is semiprivatized, it is not surprising that the drinking water sector achieves a better score
for fair governance. The legitimacy and responsiveness of the hydroelectric system is
rather negligible, with these two factors mainly influenced by public feedback to the
small number of elected officials at the provincial level. However, equity does not
seem to be of much concern to these institutions and is low on their list of priorities.
The drinking water system, despite being more democratic, does not score as well as
one might expect. Legitimacy is good, but responsiveness can be low due to the way
power and authority is spread throughout the sector, and for most institutions equity
does not factor in their formal codes and institutional capacity. This is quite a
surprising finding, but it appears that few bodies outside health and municipal
authorities have equitable concerns as part of their mandate.
Overall Analysis
It is at this point that I would like to pause and consider some broad conclusions. The
first three categories on the adaptive capacity wheel – Variety, Learning Capacity and
Room for Autonomous Change – are all designed to test flexibility. As we can see,
there seems to be a relationship between variety and room for autonomous change.
The more democratic and complex governance of the drinking water sector has low
Room for Autonomous Change, but good Variety. This suggests that the legal and
institutional constraints that make consultation a requirement also limit the ability
of institutions within to take autonomous action.
The opposite is true with the hydroelectric system. Institutions within this system do
not have as many requirements to consult with other institutions or outside bodies,
meaning they have a good ability to make autonomous change but suffer from having
a low level of consultation. Therefore, another critical issue becomes the difficulty in
reconciling Variety and Room for Autonomous Change. Both sectors could benefit if
solutions are devised that make one possible within damaging the other.
Another fundamental difference between the hydroelectric and drinking water
systems appears to be that the hydroelectric system is semi-privatized and largely
controlled by a for-profit Crown Corporation (BC Hydro), whilst the drinking water
system is publicly controlled and non-profit. The hydroelectric system has good
access to resources due to its ability to generate money, whilst the drinking water
system has no ability to generate money and must seek financial aid from provincial
and federal authorities that can be reluctant to provide it.
The role of money within hydroelectricity serves to harm the perception of fair
governance and creates conditions where the public is skeptical about the
motivations of actors within that sector. It can be argued that the ability for the semiprivatized hydroelectric system to generate its own finances is perhaps its greatest
strength. In contrast, the greatest weakness of institutions governing drinking water
is that they have to rely on higher authorities to provide them with the appropriate
level of finance, and it is difficult to change federal and provincial taxation policy.
6.2: Answer to Sub-Question 3:
With this analysis in mind, we can now reconsider sub-question 3:
What are the critical factors in the adaptive capacity of the hydroelectric and
drinking water systems that may undermine efforts to adapt these systems to
climate change?
The adaptive capacity wheels have been used to identify the critical factors in the
adaptive capacity of the two systems. These critical factors for the drinking water and
hydroelectricity sectors are summarised in Tables 10 and 11 in order of severity, from
most severe to least severe.
TABLE 10: Critical Factors in the Adaptive Capacity of
the Drinking Water Sector
1. Severe lack of finance available to institutions and actors who need
it most
2. Weak and short sighted leadership within most institutions of
3. Institutions have legal and institutional constraints placed upon
their ability to improvise or autonomously implement adaptation
4. Most governing institutions do not prioritise the protection of the
most vulnerable people from climate change
5. The necessity to consult a wide variety of actors and sectors may
autonomously create or act on an adaptation plan
TABLE 11: Critical Factors in Adaptive Capacity of the
Hydroelectricity Sector
1. Shortage of consultation with a range or actors and sectors during
policy framing and policy design process
2. Low priority given to fair governance
3. The people most vulnerable to climate change are not protected
4. Lack of entrepreneurial and visionary leadership within the sector
5. System does not demonstrate a good capacity to learn from
mistakes of prior policies
6. Policies are not effectively monitored or evaluated
Chapter 7: Recommendations, Discussion &
7.1: Recommendations
Now that both the physical impacts of climate change and the weaknesses in the
adaptive capacity of both sectors have been established, it is time to suggest a few
ways in which these problems may be overcome. As was established during the
theoretical framework section of this thesis, there are a number of ways to judge the
success of adaptation plans. The three central criteria are effectiveness, efficiency
and equity. In addition, adaptation actions should be integrated into existing
methodology so they can be classified as no-regrets measures. Below I will suggest
several no-regrets measures that can be taken by both sectors and which will satisfy
the three criteria for successful adaptation.
Answer to Sub-Question 4:
Doing this will lead to the answer to sub-question number four:
What measures can be taken by the institutions involved in hydroelectricity and
drinking water in order to overcome both the critical impacts of climate change and
their shortcomings in adaptive capacity?
General Recommendations for Fresh Water Resources:
1. Given that the primary problems associated with climate change impacts
involve shortages in water reserves during the summer, the central goal of the
overall system should be to increase shortage capacity in dams in order to take
advantage of the slightly increased precipitation during the winter months.
The current data suggests that in late summer there could be a 10% reduction
in water resources on an average year and up to 20% on a dry year. Therefore,
I believe the storage capacity of the overall water resources should be
increased by 25% to make sure that even the worst case scenario is accounted
2. However, increasing the storage capacity may be expensive and inefficient. To
counter this, the dams that have their storage capacity increased should be the
ones that are used for both drinking water and hydroelectricity generation.
The three biggest watersheds that serve as sources of both drinking water and
hydroelectric energy are the Capilano, Seymour and Coquitlam. As a result,
this measure would be very effective because it would help both sectors at the
same time. The drinking water sector would still have enough water supplies
because hydroelectricity generation is non-consumptive, and the
hydroelectricity sector would have an increased capacity to generate energy. It
would be useful for the institutions involved in the governance of both sectors
to conduct a cost-benefit analysis of the possibility of increasing the storage
capacity of these watersheds. It would also be helpful if they could seek
outside views by consulting with NGOs in order to limit any negative
externalities associated with these measures.
Recommendations for the Drinking Water Sector:
1. The most pressing concern for the drinking water sector is the potential lack
of water during the summer months. Therefore, I suggest that the Ministry of
Health for the region begin to draw up plans for emergency responses to this
situation. It would help if these responses included consultation with actors at
the municipal level of governance, and aimed at primarily protecting those
most vulnerable to shortages in water, such as homeless people.
2. Impacts on the water quality for the province are also an issue for concern.
Therefore, I suggest that monitoring of water quality should be improved. This
would be done by giving increased powers to the Medical Health Officers
within the province who have seen their power diminish over the past few
decades as a result of lobbying from industry (Interview 12).
3. Many of the institutions governing at a regional and municipal level have a
severe shortage in finance. Interviews show that the central cause of this
shortfall is the taxation system. For every dollar a person in Greater
Vancouver pays in tax, only $0.08 goes to the Metro Vancouver authority.
Given that climate change is set to place even more financial pressure on
Metro Vancouver, I suggest either a revaluation of the tax policy in the region
to allow more funding to get to those institutions most in need, or else the
establishment of a federal or provincial climate change adaptation fund that
can be accessed by Metro Vancouver for the projects they prioritise. With
increased funding at the disposal of Metro Vancouver, they will be able to
spread this resource to the municipalities that are most in need of investment.
4. However, finance is not the only problem facing Metro Vancouver. Often they
do not have the legal authority to take measures to alter their own
infrastructure because these powers are not granted within their Letters
Patent. Therefore, I suggest that alterations are made to the Letters Patent of
Metro Vancouver in order to give them increased authority over their
5. During the redrafting of the Letters Patent, there should also be measures
taken to include equity as one of the primary considerations when taking
adaptation measures. Fair governance could also be included by establishing
public forums where members of the public can speak to decision makers in
order to facilitate understanding on both sides and increase the legitimacy and
responsiveness of the governing bodies.
6. Given that the region currently has an abundance of rainfall, much of it is used
frivolously on activities such as washing cars and watering lawns. Therefore, I
suggest that local authorities are given increased powers in water shortage
events that allow them to ban these activities for a short period of time in
order to prioritise the water resources going to those in most need.
7. Leadership within the sector could be improved by improving education and
awareness about the risks of climate change. NGOs could play a part in this by
highlighting the critical factors and raising awareness amongst the public who
will then put pressure on the institutions that govern the sector. Once
adaptation to climate change becomes an election issue it will force leaders to
implement policies that have a more long-term vision than simply a few years.
Recommendations for the Hydroelectricity Sector:
1. Consultation could be improved by establishing a forum where actors within
the institutions governing the sector meet and share information, knowledge
and opinions with actors from other sectors, NGOs and the general public.
Membership of this forum would provide benefits to all parties involved,
because it would help in gathering greater information and knowledge from a
wider range of fields and experiences that can then be used to design more
effective, efficient and equitable policies.
2. In addition, the institutions within this forum should gather feedback from
participants in discussions that can be used to evaluate current policies and
provide opportunities for learning and altering policies. This should not only
increase the learning capacity of the sector, but would also improve the
legitimacy of the governing institutions in the eyes of the public by showing
that they are responsive to public feedback.
3. Some interviewees expressed scepticism about the legitimacy of the
governance in the sector by highlighting the lobbying that occurs, particularly
from the mining and logging industries. Therefore, the Ministry of Energy and
Mines could change their rules and codes of accountability so that all meetings
with members of these industries are recorded and made public. This would
result in much better legitimacy and support from the public.
7.2: Discussion
I felt that the approach to answering the research question and sub-questions was
effective overall. I was able to find a good range of academic literature on climate
change adaptation that could be used to build up a theoretical framework for
analyzing the two sectors. There was also a good range of literature available showing
the extent of climate change in the region and how these changes would impact upon
regional water resources. Interviewing actors within institutions of governance
proved to be enlightening for a number of reasons. Firstly, actors within the
institutions could give opinions on matters of governance that would not otherwise
get published in official reports. Secondly, by talking to these actors, I was able to get
a more detailed and current picture of their main concerns. This is mainly because
reports can take years to compile and by the time they become available, new
scientific evidence may be in use within the institution. The interviews with NGOs
outside of these sectors also proved to be useful in providing additional information
and opinion that one may not acquire from actors within the industry.
The adaptive capacity wheel was an insightful tool for analysis of these sectors. By
incorporating such a holistic set of criteria, it highlighted critical factors that would
otherwise have been overlooked. It also assigns a numerical value to issues that are
subjective. In addition, the visual aspect of the adaptive wheel is excellent for giving
an immediate and striking comparison between the differences in how the two
sectors are governed and the strengths and weaknesses in their adaptive capacities.
Without the adaptive capacity wheel, it is doubtful that these differences would have
been so explicitly highlighted.
However, there are also several limitations to my use of methodology. When
interviewing actors within sectors, their opinions are still somewhat subjective.
Another actor within that same institution may have a different perception of how
the sector is governed. I mitigated this problem by interviewing two actors from what
I considered to be the most important institutions in the governance of their sectors.
There are also risks associated with interviewing actors who may be reluctant to
criticize the organization or institution that they work for, leading to an incorrect
impression of how they are governed.
In addition, the adaptive capacity wheel can be somewhat subjective itself. When
assigning a grade to a specific category of sub-category on the wheel, I took great care
to ensure I was being as fair as possible and not making judgments that lay outside of
the information I gathered from my interviews. However, it must still be recognized
that this cannot completely counter the subjectivity of the technique and, had a
different person been analyzing the interviews, I may have reached different
The results from this process showed that both institutions had problems that related
to the same basic changes in the availability of water resources following the impacts
of climate change. However, the adaptive capacity wheel showed that the different
governance structures of these two sectors directly resulted in differing adaptive
capacities. The more horizontal drinking water sector was strong in variety, whilst
the more top-down hydroelectric sector was weak in this area. Given that the
hydroelectric sector had less democratic constraints placed upon it, institutions had
the capability to take autonomous action on climate change, in contrast to the
drinking water sector, where actors were constrained by the necessity to consult and
reach consensus with other institutions. These examples highlight the usefulness of
adaptive capacity wheels and the insights they provide.
The results from this process also highlight other potential opportunities for further
research. It opens the way for actors and institutions within these sectors to reassess
how they are governed and the new institutional roles and legislation that may
improve their adaptive capacities. In addition, there may be fruitful research
opportunities is researching new ways of making the adaptive capacity wheel less
subjective. Unfortunately, my research was limited to interviews with only fourteen
stakeholders, but if the institutions within these sectors interviewed multiple
personnel from different divisions and levels of authority they may gather even more
detailed information and reach more reliable adaptive capacity scores.
7.3: Conclusions:
I began this thesis on the critical factors in the adaptation of the drinking water and
hydroelectric systems to the impacts of climate change by asking the following
primary research question:
“In Vancouver, Canada how could the institutions and other parties
and organizations responsible for, or involved in, drinking water
allocation and hydroelectric production increase their adaptive
capacity to prepare for climate change?”
To answer this question I had to answer four additional sub-questions. The aim of
these sub-questions was to identify; (1) what the physical impacts from climate
change will mean for the overall water resources in the region, (2) how these physical
impacts will affect the hydroelectric and drinking water sectors, (3) the critical
governance issues which may prevent actors and institutions within the two sectors
from adapting to the impacts of climate change, and (4) use the knowledge garnered
from these insights to suggest ways in which institutions and actors within these
sectors can change their governance to increase their adaptive capacity, and
measures they can take to mitigate the impacts of climate change.
To do this, I conducted an in-depth review and analysis of relevant literature and
fourteen interviews with members from institutions and stakeholder groups involved
in these two sectors. This helped me to establish that the risks from the impacts of
climate change come in two varieties. Firstly, there are the physical impacts of
climate change upon water resources, and secondly, the adaptive capacity wheels
highlighted weaknesses in the governance of these institutions that leave them
vulnerable to climate change or hinder their adaptation processes.
Following this, I suggested ways in which these two categories of critical factor could
be overcome by recommending no-regrets measures that could be used to satisfy the
criteria for successful adaptation – effectiveness, efficiency and equity.
This overall process resulted in several observations that may be of use in future
studies. It became apparent that the hydroelectric sector had a better adaptive
capacity than the drinking water sector, due mainly to the different way that the two
sectors are governed. The semi-privatized, top-down governance structure fared
better than the more horizontal drinking water sector. The reason for these
differences appears to lie in the concentration of power within a few actors and
institutions within the hydroelectric sector, making it easier to take action on climate
change. In addition, the profit-making hydroelectric system had large financial
resources that have help with adaptation.
In contrast, actors and institutions within the drinking water sectors often had
limited power and were more restricted in the action they could take. In addition, the
drinking water sector struggles for funding in comparison to hydroelectricity.
Despite these flaws, the drinking water sector still did better in terms of variety and
fair governance as a result of these same legal and institutional constraints.
Both adaptive capacity wheels have highlighted effective and ineffective traits in each
system of governance. It is hoped that each sector can work on these flaws in order to
get a more balanced and holistic form of governance that satisfies all the criteria for
adaptive capacity, and therefore ensures the protection of these two sectors in the
In addition, I hope that my recommendations may point towards ways in which these
shortcomings can be addressed in the future. If these recommendations were
followed, I believe both sectors could improve their adaptive capacity and create
systems of governance that would help them deal with the known and unknown
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URWIN, K. & JORDAN, A. (2008) ‘Does public policy support or undermine climate
change adaptation? Exploring policy interplay across different scales of governance’,
Global Environmental Change, Vol. 18: 180-191.
ZWIERS ET AL (2011) ‘Hydrologic Impacts of Climate Change on BC Water
Resources’, Pacific Climate Impacts Consortium, www.pacificclimate .org.
List of Figures and Tables:
Table 1: Reasons For Early Climate Change Adaptation
Page 6
Table 2: Interviewees, Stakeholders and Institutions
Page 21
Table 2: Seasonal Temperature Changes
Page 25
Table 3: Seasonal Precipitation Changes
Page 28
Table 4: Critical Impacts of Climate Change in Vancouver Region
Page 28
Table 5: Critical Impacts on Water Resources
Page 29
Table 6: Energy Needs of BC Homes
Page 35
Table 7: Impacts on Drinking Water System
Page 36
Table 8: Impacts on Hydroelectricity System
Page 37
Table 9: Critical Factors for Adaptive Capacity of Drinking Water
Page 64
Table 10: Critical Factors for Adaptive Capacity of Hydroelectricity
Page 64
Figure 1: Default Adaptive Capacity Wheel
Page 11
Figure 2: Map Showing Locations of Watersheds in Vancouver Region
Page 14
Figure 3: Map Showing Location of Dams in Vancouver Region
Page 15
Figure 4: The Hydroelectricity Generation Process
Page 16
Figure 5: Mean Temperature Trends by Time Period
Page 24
Figure 6: Map Showing Location of Temperature Changes
Page 24
Figure 7: Map Showing Seasonal Distribution of Temperature Changes
Page 25
Figure 8: Mean Precipitation Trends by Time Period
Page 26
Figure 9: Map Showing Location of Precipitation Changes
Page 27
Figure 10: Seasonal Distribution of Precipitation Changes
Page 27
Figure 11: Changes in Campbell River Discharge
Page 31
Figure 12: Seasonality of Hydroelectric Energy Production
Page 34
Figure 13: Final Adaptive Capacity Wheel for Drinking Water
Page 58
Figure 14: Final Adaptive Capacity Wheel for Hydroelectricity
Page 59
Interview 1:
Jenny Fraser: Adaptation Specialist, BC Ministry of Environment.
What are the critical impacts from climate change that concern you?
Warmer wetter winters, earlier snowmelt and longer, drier summers. This leads to
reduced water storage in winter snowpack. This impacts communities that rely on
spring snowmelt to get them through the summer. The effects to which CC will be felt
is still unclear, but believes it will be significant.
What do you think Ministry of Environment needs to do to adapt to these
One way in which we are adapting is through adjusting the Water Act. The new
Water Sustainability Act will specifically aim to increase the flexibility of
management structures in order to account for seasonal variables and climate
Is the Ministry of Environment currently equipped to do this?
As with the new Water Sustainability Act that is in the works, the ministry is quite
effective at monitoring the effectiveness of policies. The policies themselves are not
up for evaluation, but their effectiveness is. It is difficult to know if a lack or
effectiveness would lead to a change in policy or just tweaking of the policy, since
policies usually aren’t complete abandoned when they have become established.
What are the barriers (financial, technical, legal, institutional) that may
prevent you from taking timely measures?
Technical: Whilst our regionally downscaled climate information and hydrology
information is good, there are still many areas in which data is not available.
Institutional: Leadership can be inconsistent. Sometimes it can be comprehensive
and farsighted, whilst other times it can be short term. It generally depends on who
is in charge.
Institutional: In some areas the MOE has authority, whilst in others it has very little.
Therefore our authority can be somewhat limited.
Finances: Depends on context; adaptation doesn’t always cost money; “effective”
adaptation is an undefined goal; sometimes cost of adaptation can be absorbed into
existing budgets, and sometimes it involves new costs.
Human: Existing program staff in certain areas is integrating adaptation into their
work. In other areas this is seen as “extra” work for which there are no staff
How does the Ministry of Environment need to change in order to
facilitate the adaptation process?
MOE does not focus on creating specific “adaptation” plans. Rather we attempt to
integrate adaptation into regular business activities. Therefore, we can only provide
the necessary advice and tools for regional authorities to formulate policy.
What are the critical factors (awareness, leadership, money, etc) that you
feel must be improved?
Water is managed differently in different jurisdictions. The MOE can help other
jurisdictions and provide them with adequate tools, but the jurisdictions tend to
create their own policies towards management. The management systems tend to be
different in each jurisdiction. For example in one jurisdiction the reservoirs may be
owned and managed by the municipal or district authorities, with little input from
5: How will the organization need to change in order to facilitate the
adaptation process?
The leadership within MOE could improve. It tends to vary from department to
department. Whilst some departments have good leadership with long-term goals,
others may have weaker leadership that thinks only short-term. Overall the
leadership within departments will have to improve because adaptation requires a
high degree of integration and coordination across departments and levels.
 The text above was a summary of a longer interview that was recorded by
telephone. Some of the text is not a direct quotation, but an abridged version
of the primary recording, done in order to removed superfluous and
repetitive detail. My best efforts were made to capture the correct meaning
and essence behind what the interviewee said.
Interview 2:
David Fishwick: Drinking Water Manager, Ministry of Health
1: What is the role of the Ministry of Health in the drinking water sector?
In BC, the Ministry of Health deals with standards and legislation respecting
drinking water treatment and delivery, and the Ministry of Environment deals with
source water protection issues. It is the responsibility of the Ministry to make sure
that the water that makes its way into taps is of sufficient standard according to the
2: What are the effects from climate change that are of most concern to
That said, the two are related to each other, and predicted climate change related
weather extremes that may result in either an increase or a decrease in precipitation
are potential concerns. Reduced water volumes in dry areas may result in water
shortages. Heavy precipitation or rapid snowmelt may result in turbidity events that
may be beyond a systems capacity to adequately treat water, or damage
infrastructure through flooding. Warmer temperatures may lead to algae blooms (i.e.
cyan bacteria), which can lead to toxins in surface water supplies.
3: What do you think the Ministry of Health needs to do in order to take
the necessary measures?
We are looking at how we can adapt our policies to help operators accommodate
water conservation efforts and rainwater harvesting, respond to turbidity events, and
develop plans to respond to algae blooms, and we have communication materials
aimed at helping the public during flooding events. These types of responses are
typically addressed through existing resources. We will be keeping an eye on other
potential issues to determine if specific responses are warranted.
4: What are the barriers preventing the Ministry of Health from taking
timely measures?
Financial and technical challenges may be faced by water system operators over the
long term if they need to invest in further infrastructure to respond to climate
change. These will be monitored and responded to according to the situation at the
 The text above was a summary of a longer interview that was recorded by
telephone. Some of the text is not a direct quotation, but an abridged version
of the primary recording, done in order to removed superfluous and
repetitive detail. My best efforts were made to capture the correct meaning
and essence behind what the interviewee said.
Interview 3:
Glen Davidson: Comptroller of Water Rights, Ministry of Forests, Lands and
Natural Resource Operations
1: What are the effects from climate change that concern you?
We expect that the snowpack will reduce as the climate warms. This means at certain
times of the year there will be reduced flow in rivers, but because of increased
precipitation, the overall volume of water will probably go up in British Columbia
annually. It may actually be good for hydropower, with the potential for 10% -20%
more energy production, but negative for drinking water because the dry periods will
be more frequent and longer.
2: How do you think the impacts from Climate Change will affect Water
Planning and Management?
Currently we operate by a first-in-time principle of “prior appropriation”, so we don’t
have one type of use for all areas. That means that the first people to use the water
can continue to use it for their purpose, and other users can use the remaining water
so long as they do not impact the original users allotment. Much of the water used in
cities is for washing cars and watering lawns. That is not best use in my opinion, and
it may be necessary to legislate against these uses of water during dry periods.
3: What do you think your institution needs to do to adapt to these
In the Vancouver area, there are a few old hydro projects that are now being used to
supply drinking water. It is working very well, but the city has to compensate the
hydro company for the loss of power. Sometimes the City is unhappy about this, but
it’s the hydro producers who have spent the money creating the dam in the first
place, so it’s unfair for the city to expect the hydro company to not want
We are looking at changing the Water Act in British Columbia to allow more flexible
water use. A lot of the adaptation will just be financial transactions like was
described with the above transfer of a dam from hydro to drinking water. But there
will be other issues with freeing up water for uses that are not transactions, such as
making water available for fish to survive. We need to get a little better and more
aggressive about these kinds of issues. The Water Act is quite old, so it doesn’t even
contemplate changes in flows. We should still stay with prior appropriation, but
make it a bit more flexible for decision makers so managers like me could get more
water available during times of drought.
4: What are the barriers (financial, technical, legal, institutional) that
may prevent you from taking timely measures?
The biggest difficulty is getting clarity for what climate change means for our water
resources. There is huge uncertainty about future projections and it is very difficult
to get a solid figure of what the effects will be. That is something we struggle with.
Sometimes we can work with uncertainty but other times it is difficult without
certainty because we need to be able to make a clear case for investments and things
of that nature.
The infrastructure of the water system cannot be easily adapted. Plans can be quickly
changed but people and infrastructure takes much longer. Planning and
management is more flexible than those, but things like increasing dam capacity
cannot be done quickly
We have political constraints, constraints from stakeholders and legal constraints
too. We cannot just do what we want. Laws, rules and constitutional barriers mean
that we have to get approval from other bodies or consult with stakeholders before
taking action.
The leadership is very short sighted. This is an inherent aspect of the political system.
Leaders are only thinking a couple of years in advance at most. I am working for the
government right now and they have an election in a year and they are not thinking
beyond a year in advance.
5: What are the critical factors (awareness, leadership, money, etc) that
you feel must be improved?
We are not pro-active in monitoring policies we are more likely to react to what is
happening instead.
Finance is a big barrier to taking timely measures.
Awareness can be low amongst the public. I think a lot of the public doesn’t
understand climate change. It is very difficult to convince them that action must be
taken on the impacts from climate change when they are so skeptical, so we need to
raise awareness and education about this problem.
 The text above was a summary of a longer interview that was recorded by
telephone. Some of the text is not a direct quotation, but an abridged version
of the primary recording, done in order to removed superfluous and
repetitive detail. My best efforts were made to capture the correct meaning
and essence behind what the interviewee said.
Interview 4:
Councilor Marvin Hunt: Board of Directors, Metro Vancouver
1: What are the effects from climate change that concern you?
The interesting thing is we don’t know. So much of this is speculation that we don’t
know and it is a very difficult challenge to adapt to something that is unknown. We
have taken a number of steps in trying to plan for the unknown, so we’ve created a
Sustainability Charter, where we looked at different areas (economic, social,
environment) to try and figure out how we can adapt to clime change.
2: What do you think Metro Vancouver needs to do to adapt to these
Ultimately we have to figure out what is going on. We have so many different
projections about what is happening. Climate may just go in cyclical manners – when
I was a child we were told we were going into the next ice age. It is a challenge to
know if climate change is actually happening.
3: What are the barriers (financial, technical, legal, institutional) that
may prevent you from taking timely measures?
Financially, we cannot afford to do all the things that we could possibly do. There are
so many projections, and an infinite amount of adaptation projects that could be
conducted, that it would be impossible to afford to do them all. So, yet again, we are
back on the biggest barrier, which is the level of uncertainty around the projections.
4: What are the critical factors (awareness, leadership, money, etc) that
you feel must be improved?
We don’t have the necessary authority. The provincial government controls a lot of
what we can do because the Letters Patent of Metro Vancouver, which were written
by the provincial government, do not give us the authority to do so.
For example, in one part of the region there are big dams for water reserves for
summer. During winter we have too much water in these dams and it spills over the
top of the dam. Years ago, I suggested building a turbine at the bottom of the dam
and use the water to generate power. We have tried to convince the provincial
government of the case for this for years, but they will not give us the authority to do
that. It could be easily achieved, but we don’t have the authority to do it. BC Hydro
are interested, and we actually own the dam and its part of our water district, but
there is no authority in our Letters Patent that allows us to harness that water to
make money and power from it. So we have to go through the stupidity of getting the
provincial government to change the Letters Patent to do that.
I also do not think we get enough funding and support from the provincial
government. Everybody thinks certain projects may be a good idea, but nobody
wants to pay for it. For example, we had a recent world-class water filtration project
installed in one of our dams. It was an $800M project, but the provincial and federal
governments only gave $15M between them towards it. The rest had to be paid for by
Metro Vancouver. Yet this project was demanded by these governments, and they
wants to do further treatment projects, so that will be a huge financial hurdle to get
Another problem comes from a lack of public awareness and support at times. The
public is in favor of projects as long as it does not cost them any money. The support
evaporates once the cost gets too high.
In addition, the reality of politics is that three-year terms make it a difficult challenge
to look at the bigger picture, when politicians are more concerned about getting reelected for their next term
With regard to protecting the most vulnerable people from climate change, that is
simply not within our mandate. Our mandate is very utilitarian; we deal with water,
sewage and garbage. When we speak of vulnerability, we are getting more into the
social side of things, which is not what we are about. Our concern is more about
distributing services and utilities to the public. Everyone is treated the same and
should get the same level of service, but we do not prioritize groups, even if they are
the most vulnerable.
 The text above was a summary of a longer interview that was recorded by
telephone. Some of the text is not a direct quotation, but an abridged version
of the primary recording, done in order to removed superfluous and
repetitive detail. My best efforts were made to capture the correct meaning
and essence behind what the interviewee said.
Interview 5:
Mayor Darrell Mussatto: Chair, Utilities Committee, Metro Vancouver
1: What are the effects from climate change that concern Metro
We have a number of concerns that we think we know of and others we don’t know
of, but that could affect us. We live in a low-lying area, so with climate change we
could get flooding. Snow melting in interior in spring causes peak flows in the rivers
at this time. In the past we had dykes at a certain height, but now we think they are 1
metre lower than they should be due to climate change projections. Not only are
floods a worry, but also the faster snow melts means that we could be left with water
shortages during the late summer period.
2: What do you think Metro Vancouver needs to do to adapt to these
We need to increase funding to these areas in order to accelerate the renewal of
infrastructure for the water and sewage systems. We are spending hundreds of
millions of dollars right now to ensure that these systems are prepared.
For example, we are crossing the water mains under the Fraser River into Surrey in
order to help them cope better with peak water events. We are designing this
infrastructure so that it is compatible with what we project as the future impacts of
climate change, and in order to it to be resistant to earth quakes. Due to climate
change, we have to design these pieces of infrastructure to a higher standard that
previously – which creates added cost.
We are currently spending millions of dollars to ensure that the infrastructures of the
water system and sewage system are up to standard for future peak events. This is all
causing a significant increase in the budget of Metro Vancouver.
3: What are the barriers (financial, technical, legal, institutional) that
may prevent you from taking timely measures?
FINANCE: Finance is by far the biggest barrier. Finding the right level of funding is
difficult. The public agrees with us taking these measures, but we cannot get the
finance either from our own regional funds or from the provincial and federal
governments. We are therefore not putting enough in financially to help systems like
the water system adapt to climate change. We need the provincial and federal
governments to provide us with more money for these projects, because Metro
Vancouver does not generate enough money on its own. We have a small population
of 2 million people, so we cannot collect the millions in taxation that we need to do
these projects.
Legal: We have requirements that are set by provincial and federal governments
that we have to meet. We have treatment requirements for water quality that come
under provincial legislation and we are legally required to meet these targets.
Most of ours treatments facilities still need upgrading. We have a total of 5 treatment
plants and only 2 are at the required level for future climate change and population
growth projections. The other 3 treatments facilities still need to be upgraded to meet
future requirements and that will cost approximately $1.4 billion over next 20 years.
One of those has to be done by 2020 or else we will be unable to reach water quality
standards. Therefore, we only have 8 years to plan, build and commission a water
treatment plant and I do not think it is likely that we will meet this target.
4: What are the critical factors (awareness, leadership, money, etc) that
you feel must be improved?
Leadership: The leadership is good at local levels, but it needs to be improved at
the federal level in particular. The provincial government has given support in the
past, but it is waning ever since they got a new leader. We are concerned that we may
not have the same support anymore from the provincial government to deal with
climate change and adaptation in our area.
Funding: Metro Vancouver only collects about $0.08 of the tax dollar whilst the
provincial collects $0.42, and the federal government collects the other $0.50 in the
dollar. As can clearly be seen from those figures, Metro Vancouver have the least
financial means to deal with these climate change adaptation issues, yet we have
most of the demand for adaptation placed upon us. The Metro Vancouver region
drives the economy of the whole province and accounts for over 50% of the total
GDP. To mitigate climate change, we need support from the higher levels of
government who receive the bulk of the tax money that is generated here.
At provincial level we have no way of appealing to the provincial government for an
increase in our budget. With the federal government, we have to wait until the next
budget is announced in 2014. The federal government have given vague reassurances
that they will help us in 2014, but we still haven’t seen any plans for what that
funding or support will be. This leaves us with a big infrastructure gap, not just for
climate change, but also for roads, bridges and all other expenses. Those other
projects cost a lot of that money too, so it reduces the amount of money that we can
afford to spend on climate change adaptation.
 The text above was a summary of a longer interview that was recorded by
telephone. Some of the text is not a direct quotation, but an abridged version
of the primary recording, done in order to removed superfluous and
repetitive detail. My best efforts were made to capture the correct meaning
and essence behind what the interviewee said.
Interview 6:
Arelia Werner: Hydrologist, Pacific Climate Impacts Consortium
1: What are the climate change impacts on the water system that most
concern you?
The province has a wide variety of habitats and geological areas with different
weather systems, so the effects will also be varied.
Areas with high snowfall: Currently most of the snow pack melts at around May or
June but in the future the timing may change and the snow melt will come about a
month earlier. This means that in late summer the projections are for it to be drier
because the snow is melting sooner and there will be less stream flow in rivers and
Rainfall dominated areas: Most of the runoff in these areas will occur during winter
and little in spring. These are hybrid systems; meaning precipitation is varies
between snowfall and rainfall.
Probably the most concerning is change in the timing of the arrival in the majority of
runoff which may lead to water scarcity in summer months. The snowpack in the
mountains is the biggest natural reservoir in the region and that is shrinking rapidly,
so there is the potential for droughts in summer and flooding when rain lands on top
of snow pack causing snow to melt sooner and the reservoirs and rivers to fill beyond
their capacity.
Snow altitude may lower in mid-altitudes. The snow-line is moving up to higher
altitudes and areas of lower elevation will not receive as much snow any more.
However, some models show that snowfall may increase at very high elevations
where precipitation is increasing but it is still cold enough for it to fall as snow.
Essentially, our infrastructure is geared towards the current weather systems and we
need to know how it will change in order to adapt our infrastructure and way of life.
2: How does the PCIC use its climate models?
No single model is the right answer and our observational data is not ideal, so only
have some sense of how well they’re doing now. We need to use many models to
balance out what we expect in future. Give a range of possible future ranges we have
to deal with and policymakers and managers of the water system can adjust
according to these new variables.
3: How would you describe the way in which policymakers and planners
deal with the uncertainty of regional climate change projections?
Planners and engineers are used to dealing with uncertainty. If you give them a
certain projection, they can give or take a certain percent in order to increase their
flexibility to these new conditions. It is important how uncertainty is presented. In
workshops, we go through a range of projections it helps them to prioritize what are
most important changes, and therefore the most important areas that they should
change to adapt.
4: Do you feel water managers in the region evaluate and alter their
policies to reflect new scientific information?
Climate change is just one of their problems so they need to balance what needs to be
done overall. Community plans do bring climate change in as a consideration, but I
don’t know of any cities or areas that specifically implement a policy based solely on
our climate change projections.
5: How would you describe the use of new scientific evidence by water
planners, managers and policymakers? (Does it lead to new policies,
integration into old ones, or is it ignored?)
From my experience of working with cities to develop policies, if the information is
there at the right time it may be taken into account, but cannot think of examples of
when it actually instigates a policy. Timing is very important because, if a policy is a
long way through development before climate change is brought up, then it is very
difficult to go back and change the policy to include it as a consideration.
6: Do you feel the PCIC has enough resources (financial, human,
technical) to adequately fulfill its role?
Our technical ability is quite high to and we have a lot of experienced and talented
people working for us.
Resources can be low, but not low enough to be frustrating.
We have tools on our website so people can actually extract the data themselves. It
takes a year or 2 to make sure a projection is scientifically sound.
Ways to improve:
We are relatively new and we have been growing and getting a lot of feedback from
users. We have a board and committee who work with director to re-craft the
strategic plan – for next 5 years. Doing as well as we can to be useful and give useful
 The text above was a summary of a longer interview that was recorded by
telephone. Some of the text is not a direct quotation, but an abridged version
of the primary recording, done in order to removed superfluous and
repetitive detail. My best efforts were made to capture the correct meaning
and essence behind what the interviewee said.
Interview 7:
Peter Navratil: Manager of Waterworks Design, City of Vancouver
1: What are the effects from climate change on the water system of
Vancouver that most concern you?
We are expecting longer, hotter summers. This is a concern because we do not
believe that there is currently an appropriate level of storage capacity in the lakes and
reservoir system for the Metro Vancouver area. The issue of storage capacity is out of
our control because it is the responsibility of the water resource group from Metro
2: How do you think the impacts from climate change will affect the City
of Vancouver?
The main issue here is, obviously, water shortages. We have got to put in more
infrastructure and have tighter restrictions on water. We also need to take measures
to change the behavior of residents in order to get closer to water usage figures in
European countries. Prices could be used as a lever to bring down consumption. If
the price of water is increased, then people are less likely to use as much.
3: What do you think the City of Vancouver needs to do to adapt to these
Metro has put in state of the art filtration in two lakes which makes greatly improves
the water quality. These types of measures should be expanded in order to adapt all
the lakes and reservoirs to the risks associated with climate change.
We have begun to plan for a heat response initiative. Part of this involves the
installation of temporary fountains for homeless people in the event of droughts.
Unfortunately, Vancouver has a large problem with homelessness, so we hope these
measures will protect those people who are more vulnerable to heat events due to
their poor access to drinking water. We must lower consumption rates. One policy
area is the single-family sector where most homes are still not metered. We have a
series of options in this regard. Whilst metering is used in all new construction, we
have still not started retrofitting the older properties, which still account for the
majority of the buildings in the city.
5: What are the barriers (financial, technical, legal, institutional) that
may prevent the City of Vancouver from taking timely measures?
Financial: A lack of finances is probably the biggest barrier preventing us from taking
timely measures. Lack of finance means lack of manpower to carry out policies. For
examples, we may design plans to install new pipes, but then not have the financial
capability to hire the manpower to install them. We spend $25 million per year on
capital expenditure and maintenance. To my estimation, this leaves us about with a
$5 million finance gap in what we need to adapt. This is not a huge gap, and we are
relatively well funded, but it still leaves us about 15% to 20% short of what we would
need in an ideal world.
Human: One of the biggest problems we have come from a lack of engineers and
water managers. I should have seven engineers working underneath me but I only
have 5. Five engineers for the whole city are not enough to fulfill our objectives.
Technical & Legal: There are not many technical or legal barriers. We have adequate
technical capability, and fortunately Vancouver has more autonomy over its water
resources than other municipalities in the Metro Vancouver region, since we have
our own charter which allows us to exact new policies.
Economic barriers: Economic barrier from commercial and industrial customers
through the fear they may leave and move to areas where water is cheaper. For
example, businesses like a brewery, where one of their biggest overheads would be
the price of water.
6: What are the critical factors that you feel must be improved?
We need to set proper outcome goals in terms of what we want the quality of water to
be, and how much we need to use per year. To do this, we will need the support of the
council and the citizens. Unfortunately, a lack of support is a critical issue with in this
regard. The public is very skeptical about the idea that Vancouver may experience
water shortages, since it rains so much in the city. They usually laugh when we raise
the subject. “It's hard for people to get their head around it”. A big challenge is to
convince citizens that they do have water issues. Nobody ever complains about price
of water so that signals support.
 The text above was a summary of a longer interview that was recorded by
telephone. Some of the text is not a direct quotation, but an abridged version
of the primary recording, done in order to removed superfluous and
repetitive detail. My best efforts were made to capture the correct meaning
and essence behind what the interviewee said.
Interview 8:
Tamsin Mills: Engineering Services, City of Vancouver
1: What are the effects from climate change that concern you?
Increasing precipitation, more extremely heat events summer, more intense storms –
windstorms, rainstorms. Adaptation strategy will look at all 3 problems. Got good
experience dealing with the ones with rain etc, but need to be prepared for unknown
2: How do you think the impacts from CC will affect your work?
The impacts on the City of Vancouver will be very far reaching. Infrastructure and
services programs. Precipitation causing problems with sewage system. Higher
insurance costs, especially in areas prone to flooding. Increased maintenance costs to
multiple services. Increases in number of sewer system backups, street flooding,
flooding in low-lying areas, higher sewage surcharges, and infrastructure surcharges.
3: What do you think Metro Vancouver needs to do to adapt to these
Mainstream climate projections so that it is considered in all future projects in the
city. Change design inputs in accordance with projections and available data.
Adaptive design – building infrastructure that is adequate for the future as well as
today. Build in accordance with what the climate of 100 years from now will be like.
Flexible designs for infrastructure so that it can work now and in the future. Increase
staff awareness at every level of governance and in every department. Regularly
update climate science, so that newest and best information is a part of city planning.
Mitigate or manage risks, depending on what is most appropriate.
4: Are you currently equipped to do this?
This is a tricky question. Nobody is currently equipped to deal with all future
conditions – but we are on our way to doing it. Academic partners provide us with
good science as the foundation for our decisions making processes.
5: What are the barriers (financial, technical, legal, institutional) that
may prevent you from taking timely measures?
Update Vancouver urban bylaws – only happens every 5 years. In my opinion this
does not happen often enough, especially since the science is changing all the time.
Uncertainty at local scale makes it difficult to argue that people have to design water
utility system for future because it can be difficult for them to have faith in the
science. Hard to sell to builders for the same reasons.
Finance: Most money comes only from city even thought Van is the economic centre
of province. The province provides very little money to help the city adapt to climate
change, so there are definite short falls in the availability of money.
Water: We get a lot of rain. Snow pack will decrease 70% 2080. More rain will
compensate. The regional government is mostly in control of the drinking water
system and they might raise dams to increase storage. Unfortunately we have very
little influence upon those matters.
Conservation: Most of our action to deal with drinking water shortages comes from
conservation programs. Water metres on houses and businesses, new legislation
about using sprinklers during times of reduced water supply. These conservation
actions would be occurring anyway, but climate change adaptation provides further
impetus for these measures to be taken.
7: What are the critical factors (awareness, leadership, money, etc) that
you feel must be improved?
The leadership is good at the City of Vancouver. Awareness is getting better but we
have got to make sure that climate change adaptation it is mainstreamed everywhere
throughout the institution.
Money is a huge factor. It is very difficult to make a business case for the necessity of
adaptation. The time scale involved means some sectors can be reluctant to take it
into consideration. Nobody knows the increment of future climate change, or the
incremental costs. It is difficult to know if any benefits will come from these actions,
and can be difficult to formulate no-regret strategies.
Decision-making: How to make decisions about adaptation actions when it doesn’t fit
into old way of decision-making.
 The text above was a summary of a longer interview that was recorded by
telephone. Some of the text is not a direct quotation, but an abridged version
of the primary recording, done in order to removed superfluous and
repetitive detail. My best efforts were made to capture the correct meaning
and essence behind what the interviewee said.
Interview 9:
Sue Bonnyman: Director, Generation and Regulation, Electricity Policy, Ministry
of Energy and Mines
Scott Cutler: Electricity Policy Analyst, Electricity and Alternative Energy Division,
Ministry of Energy and Mines
1: What are the effects from climate change that concern the Ministry of
Energy & Mines?
Sue: We are concerned that it will impact water availability and it may be serious for
our ability to provide reliable, safe and affordable hydroelectric power for the people
of British Columbia.
Scott: The province has set targets of a 1/3 reduction in green house gas emissions
by 2020 and an 80% reduction by the 2050s. A big push is on to meet that target for
mitigation. Another target is that 93% of electricity produced in BC has to come from
clean or renewable sources. These targets make the hydroelectric system even more
important for the province.
2: How do you think the impacts from climate change will affect the
Sue: In British Columbia we have BC Hydro, who are a Crown Corporation and they
have the job of providing electricity to 90% of the customers in BC. There is a
separation between government and BC Hydro. The provincial government has
responsibility for policy around climate change but it’s up to BC Hydro to look at
policy and comply with it by forming their own policies.
We rely on them to look at our policies and legislation and do calculations. We
oversee and make decisions on their strategic plans and wait for them to submit
integrated resource plans; which the Governor reviews and either approves or
disapproves. Their strategy towards climate change is very much a part of this.
3: What do you think the Ministry needs to do to adapt to these impacts?
Sue: BC Hydro are soon going to submit a new Integrated Resource Plan to the
Ministry. The Governor and those in the Ministry will review this before it is
approved. This draft report will contain BC Hydro’s plans for climate change
adaptation and how it will become integrated into the workings of their organization.
4: What are the barriers (financial, technical, legal, institutional) that
may prevent the Ministry from taking timely measures?
Sue: We are limited by what we can do under provincial legislation. In certain areas
the minister has authority, but not over legislation.
Scott: We can improvise policies options, so there is some room for improvisation in
that process.
Sue: But we cannot improvise if we are constrained by legislation. We can work to
have legislation changed but we cannot break the rules. It is important that everyone
is treated equally and it is decision-making process is transparent.
Scott: Another barrier is the uncertainty about future climate change projections.
We don’t know what we should adapt to, so it can be very difficult to make plans that
far into the future.
Sue: Financial resources can also be difficult to acquire at times. Any program we
take on obviously needs the necessary resources. We need to secure the funds
beforehand, but sometimes it is not easy to get all you need.
5: How does the Ministry need to change in order to facilitate the
adaptation process?
Sue: In terms of the structure of ministry, I would say no change necessary to deal
with climate change adaptation. However, we have a number of policies that may
need to be changed. We might change policies relating to energy efficiency, transport
fuel, and they may all need to be adapted to if needed.
6: What are the critical factors (awareness, leadership, money, etc) that
you feel must be improved?
Sue: Normally we have a standard process and we consult a lot of actors, but
sometimes the politicians decide to do something and don’t tell anybody. For the
majority of the time we do consult, but not always.
 The text above was a summary of a longer interview that was recorded by
telephone. Some of the text is not a direct quotation, but an abridged version
of the primary recording, done in order to removed superfluous and
repetitive detail. My best efforts were made to capture the correct meaning
and essence behind what the interviewee said.
Interview 10:
Brenda Goehring: Corporate Environment and Sustainability Manager, BC Hydro
1: What are the effects from climate change that concern BC Hydro?
We expect a 2.5C increase is temperatures by 2050 for British Columbia. Glacier
studies show that the snowmelt is going to be earlier in the year than usual, causing
hotter and drier summers. Because we rely on snowpack coming into rivers at certain
times of year, we are concerned about any impacts or changes to the water supply
such as the timing of the supply. We will also experience hotter and drier summers,
so we will have water coming into system earlier and the latter part of the summer
will be drier. If we have smaller glaciers then we have much less water coming into
the system.
2: How do you think the impacts from climate change will affect BC
When we looked at how we are preparing for the effects of climate change and how
they relate to our operations. This is two-fold: We looked at impacts on our
infrastructure, and then we also look at the impacts on our supply resources. .
Infrastructure: We are worried about any effect that hurts the resilience of the
infrastructure of the system, such as the transportation and distribution of the
electricity through power lines and transmission towers. So we have to look at where
they are located and how vulnerability they are to flood water. It is possible that
transmission towers may need to be moved to a different location or repositioned.
Supply: We are concerned about effects on the consistency in the supply of water.
This will be felt by changes in the volume of water in our rivers and watersheds and
how this affects the reliability of the renewable energy that we supply.
3: What do you think BC Hydro needs to do to adapt to these impacts?
We may need to take in more water earlier in the year to mitigate these effects. We
may need to go higher in the reservoirs to offset the effects of climate change. We are
currently also planning a third reservoir on the Peace which will supply an additional
900megawatts of power, although this is still currently at an early planning stage. We
may also have to expand the storage capacity in other existing dams, but that will
take until the early 2020s at least.
4: What are the barriers (financial, technical, legal, institutional) that
may prevent BC Hydro from taking timely measures?
Internally, it is difficult to get people’s attention about these long-term impacts. We
have the challenge of changing government policies to deal with. With the economic
downturn, environmental considerations can fall down the chain of importance and
it can be difficult to get attention or enthusiasm about adaptation because of all the
other considerations.
It is hard to get a systematic strategy for climate change adaptation that can be
implemented on a periodic basis over a long period of time. We’re trying to prioritize
with our adaptation strategies and get parties who can take ownership of these issues
so that when they are looking at future long-term projects, they will take the climate
change resiliency of the system into account. We need to look at building more
resilient infrastructure. Look at the levels of precipitation in the future to see if we
have the right capacity in terms of runoff.
Understanding risk assessments is a big barrier. It is difficult to know what is
prudent in terms of expenditure and to know what to fix and prepare for climate
change impacts. It can be difficult to prioritize which assets to prepare for the
impacts and know that we are doing the right things and taking the correct actions.
If the amount of water volume is short in summer, then we need to look at other
ways of getting resources such as buying from the market at that time.
5: What are the critical factors (awareness, leadership, money, etc) that
you feel must be improved?
We should make sure that we are embedding climate change adaptation parameters
into our regular business practices. We need a long-term viewpoint to avoid the
impacts. We when we make resource plans for the long term we need to make sure
we can rely on our renewable resources and take appropriate action to protect those
that are most vulnerable.
Internally, we need to ask the right questions in order to change the thinking around
what is currently accepted for risk assessments. For example, if we are building a
transmission line along a particular route, we need to ask if it is vulnerable to the
risks of climate change in the long term. We should be looking at these issues in
terms of resiliency; so the biggest challenge is finding the right places to insert the
right thinking and risk analysis.
The PCIC are now doing downscale modeling to get more reliable and accurate
projections that we can apply to long term planning so we that can have a 20-year
resource plan for our dams. We made big investments in the hydrological modeling
which we think is important to learn of future conditions, but one of the biggest
challenges remaining is to get a good 50 year projection for the effects of climate
change on our company.
 The text above was a summary of a longer interview that was recorded by
telephone. Some of the text is not a direct quotation, but an abridged version
of the primary recording, done in order to removed superfluous and
repetitive detail. My best efforts were made to capture the correct meaning
and essence behind what the interviewee said.
Interview 11:
Stephanie Smith: Manager, Hydrology & Technical Services, BC Hydro
1: What are the effects from climate change that concern you at BC
The main effects of climate change will be the changes in precipitation. This will
affect the water input into our reservoirs and therefore hydroelectricity production.
We have conducted studies into how the climate will change, and we thinking there
will be a small general increase across the province, annually.
2: How do you think the impacts from climate will affect BC Hydro?
That means we will not be losing the water we have now, but we will have to deal
with changes in the timing of precipitation. We expect more precipitation during
winter, and less during the summer, with earlier snowmelt runoff due to higher
temperatures. We expect this to have an impact on the energy that we can generate at
different times of the year, but we have not yet studied how that might change the
way we would operate the reservoirs.
3: What do you think BC Hydro needs to do to adapt to these impacts?
A lot of the problems with adapting to climate change come down to understanding
the risks and developing adaptive strategies around those risks. When we understand
the level of risk, and what parts of the company are at risk, we will better know what
we can do to mitigate those risks.
4: What are the barriers (financial, technical, legal, institutional) that
may prevent you from taking timely measures?
Institutional inertia is a big problem. Getting people within the organization to think
about climate change and adapt to it. People within the organization are used to
doing things a certain way, and it can be difficult to change those processes and their
perceptions. Our strategy at the moment is to get people thinking about climate
change and not letting them go back to the old ways of doing things.
However, we are getting more pressure from the public about what we are doing
about climate change. The public has concerns both about climate change mitigation
and adaptation, and that is pressurizing the company into changing. Generally, it is
pressure from the public and consumers that pushes the organization to change,
more than pressure from within the organization.
Technically and financially, I think we are doing okay. We plan on using existing
operational models, as climate change becomes an issue, so they should not need to
be changed in the foreseeable future. We have also got good support for climate
change research from within the company, and many studies are conducted and
supported in that area.
5: What are the critical factors (awareness, leadership, money, etc) that
you feel must be improved?
At this moment, communication and education are the most important and biggest
challenges that we face in terms of climate change. Projections still do not give us a
clear indication of what we can expect in the future, but getting people to understand
the importance of climate change.
In terms of creating new policies, we don’t tend to go back and revaluate our past
decisions. It is more about doing what we are doing and have always done, whilst
attempting to integrate climate change into our working models. We are also
influenced by government policy to a high degree, so we cannot go creating policies
alone without permission or support from the provincial authorities. In general, we
have to conform to what they want us to do.
 The text above was a summary of a longer interview that was recorded by
telephone. Some of the text is not a direct quotation, but an abridged version
of the primary recording, done in order to removed superfluous and
repetitive detail. My best efforts were made to capture the correct meaning
and essence behind what the interviewee said.
Interview 12:
Will Koop: Coordinator, British Columbia Tap Water Alliance
1: What are the effects from climate change that most concern you?
Changes in the weather patterns, which indicate either increased or decreased
rainfall. Due to logging and road building, the rainwater runoff could cause flooding
because of the decreased ability of the soil to absorb water. In areas of low rainfall,
we will see that roads and logging may affect the quality of rainwater runoff getting
into the basins. I have indentified these concerns to Metro Vancouver for years, but
they do not listen.
2: How do you feel about the governance of the watershed system in
British Columbia?
Metro Vancouver have more wide-ranging powers of watershed management than
many other regions or municipalities. They have a provincial lease, which lasts 1000
years and covers crown and public lands. Metro Vancouver controls 60% of the
population base for the whole of British Columbia. Their watershed rights go back to
The protection policies in the region used to be quite good, but the Metro Vancouver
and provincial governments have been influenced by engineers, loggers and other
industries to reduce their levels of protection. There was a sustained battle launched
against watershed protection since the 1940s at it has been very effective in reducing
the level of protection.
3: How do you feel about the accountability and consultation between
those governing and managing watersheds, and people like you?
The way municipalities and districts report to the public varies a lot. Accountability,
in general, has been of low quality. There used to be good accountability, but that
waned starting in the 1970s and 80s, as the attack on protection of watersheds
happened. Since then, those in government are much more concerned about the
thoughts of those in industry, than over normal people.
Control is very much top-down with not much public consultation. The provincial
and regional administration has a general philosophy towards creating jobs and
profiteering from our natural resources. This is mostly due to the amount of lobbying
that is done by industry. It has led to decisions such as allowing cattle grazing near
drinking water and mining interests rule the roost over decision-making.
Hydroelectricity production has come into focus over the past 10 years and created
new concerns with the public. Once again, it is what the industry refers to as
“multiple use”. Whereas in the past, these watersheds with considered “single
purpose” (drinking water) the policy has now been changed towards “multiple use”.
This is basically the idea that the watersheds should be shared between all these
industries in the pursuit of profit. This change in policy was made “in order to
rationalize having industry in what used to be considered sacred areas” that should
be protected.
“The management of the watersheds has had a very scandalous past. The
government allowed industry into legislatively protected areas with little controversy
and without informing the public. It was just allowed to happen.”
It took a nine-year fight with the regional government to get them to reinstate the
protection of the watersheds. We won in the end, but it was the biggest battle
between the people and the water district in our history. Aside from those difficulties
with the regional government (Metro Vancouver), the provincial is much worse and
are even less open to consultation or changes in the law.
New filtration systems are needed because of industry:
The need for new infiltration systems is down to the effects of the logging industry
and others. Due to the degradation is water quality, the water treatment industry also
wanted to profiteer from increasing the level of treatment. Since then, the provincial
government have made changes to the turbidity requires to make them more
restrictive. Whereas once turbidity was measured in 5 parts per million, it has now
been reduced to 1 part per million, meaning that every watershed had to get its water
treated. This was good for the water treatment industry, but it was the public who
had to pay for these treatment facilities.
The changing role of the Medical Health Officers:
Control was influenced over the Medical Health Officers. They used to have authority
over water protection and good accountability to the public, but their powers were
eroded starting in the late 1970s and 1980s and their effectiveness is now reduced.
The provincial government took much of their authority from them. They used to
play a major part in making advisory statements to the public regarding drinking
water quality, but now their philosophy reflects the philosophy of the government,
which in turn reflects the philosophy of industry. The autonomy of provincial health
officers in greatly reduced and their authority compromised.
 The text above was a summary of a longer interview that was recorded by
telephone. Some of the text is not a direct quotation, but an abridged version
of the primary recording, done in order to removed superfluous and
repetitive detail. My best efforts were made to capture the correct meaning
and essence behind what the interviewee said.
Interview 13:
Krystle TenBrink: President, Squamish Climate Action Network
1: What are the impacts of climate change that your organization is most
concerned about?
Most of our concerns are around food, waste, water, transport and energy, and
managing how we get the best balance between all five of those elements. Currently,
we do not have a good way of dealing with all of these elements holistically.
We are heavily dependent on the snowmelt as a source of water. We need long, cold
winters to get a lot of snow and runoff into the rivers to fill the watersheds. We also
get electricity from this source and drinking water; so we depend a lot on this
resource. As climate changes start to take effect, we are worried these resources will
be under threat.
Water: One of the biggest issues we currently have is that a lot of the water in BC
has recently become privatized. BC Hydro owns the rights to much of the water, but
it is a public and private company. As a Crown Corporation, the people supposedly
own it, but it is also managed privately and used to make money. Within BC Hydro,
they have contracted out some of their water resources to 100% private companies to
open new independent and private mini-dams and small hydro projects that have
less public oversight. The public then loses the ability to control what happens to that
2: What steps do you think the institutions controlling water resources
could do in order to help the system adapt to climate change?
The different regions in BC are hugely diverse; with rainforest areas, desert areas,
high rainfall and low rainfall. We have these different climates so it is difficult to deal
with climate change as a whole from a provincial level. It is much easier to deal with
adaptation at a more local level because it is possible to better prioritize and focus on
what issues are important for that specific place, whereas the provincial government
have to think of wide-ranging policies that apply to the whole province. So, I think
regional and municipal governments need to be allowed to take the lead in a lot of
these issues.
I think that each regional and municipal government has to be proactive when
looking at adaptation. There are different programs where they have taken some
steps towards education on climate change, but not enough to work within the time
limits that we have. Change in government is not happening fast enough.
It all takes time and money, but funding is not good and it is hard to get money for
these types of projects. The regional and provincial governments are not doing a
great job at educating the public and stressing the severe effects of climate change if
we do not adapt in time.
3: Do you think the power to adapt to climate change should be
transferred to a more local or regional level?
Yes. It is difficult because I don’t think there is enough being done in general at all
levels. What I think is happening, is that there is not enough change happening from
the top down, but in towns and cities they seem like they’re doing a bit more because
they have the capacity to understand what needs to be done.
Vancouver has the goal of being the greenest city in the world, and the mayor is
excellent. He is trying hard to make this happen and also doing it quickly. The public
is reacting positively, but there are also things that have to happen higher up –
provincially and federally. The conservative party who currently hold power have not
made climate change a priority. Climate change action in BC is coming from the
grass roots level but not the governmental level. It is more a case of NGOs and other
grass roots bodies initiating change, or putting pressure on different levels of
governments to change.
It is easier for smaller communities to make change, but there are still policies and
bylaws that need to be created or changed along with that. This is an area where we
are always fighting the provincial government, because many of their decisions are
informed by politics and political expediency, rather than looking at the long terms
changes that we need to make.
4: How do you feel about the consultation between the public and NGOs,
and the bodies that governing and make decisions about water
I can definitely tell you from being the president of an NGO that the district never
comes to us asking for help or advice when making new policies. It is always us going
to them and telling them, making proposals and telling them that they need to
5: What do you think needs to change in order to the region to adapt to
climate change?
I do feel that a lot of change has been happening because people want it to. There are
so many NGOS here and the government has recognized that, when they look at the
statistics of how many people are now members of NGOs.
I think the government is still learning about how to deal with all of these issues
themselves. I do not think they are spending enough money or time to develop
policies to help us cope with climate change. They need to be proactive instead of
reactive, which is what we always seem to be doing. They don’t do anything until
there is a problem and then they react to it. They also need to donate more money to
NGOs to do more work. There could be more money, encouragement and
cooperation from the regional and provincial government to help us with our work.
 The text above was a summary of a longer interview that was recorded by
telephone. Some of the text is not a direct quotation, but an abridged version
of the primary recording, done in order to removed superfluous and
repetitive detail. My best efforts were made to capture the correct meaning
and essence behind what the interviewee said.