We all have a common interest in water

Currie Dixon, Minister of Environment

As submitted to the Whitehorse Star on Friday, July 25th, 2014
by Currie Dixon, Minister of Environment

The Yukon Water Strategy and Action Plan was recently released to the public. The purpose behind this document is to recognize the common interest of all water managers in the territory – federal, First Nation and municipal governments, as well as the Yukon government – enabling everyone involved to work toward common goals.

The strategy details a vision, principles, goals and priorities for Yukon water. It also identifies 55 specific actions that the Yukon government will undertake within each of these priority areas: understanding and managing Yukon’s groundwater; planning for needs now and in the future; improving management programs; maintaining or improving access to safe drinking water; and promoting sustainable water use. We also aim to improve the sharing of information about Yukon’s water, highlighting the importance of the proper management of this life-sustaining resource.

We’ll be making an investment of about $2.7 million over three years on projects like the installation of 25 new hydrometric monitoring stations, strengthening your government’s flood forecasting capabilities (through use of real-time data) and the hiring of a hydrogeologist to expand the existing groundwater program. Other planned projects include improving data accessibility and functionality, and formalizing a community monitoring program. This investment is designed to provide economic benefits to local communities and the private sector, as well as using training to increase the capacity of water managers.

Although this is ultimately a Yukon government document, the strategy recognizes the role of other water managers in Yukon and calls for stronger working relationships and a more coordinated approach to water management. Specifically, we will collaborate with water partners and stakeholders to enhance protection measures for groundwater, work towards greater consistency in identifying community needs in the development of water systems, and increase education and outreach activities on water-related data and information.

We also plan to host a Water Forum in Yukon to exchange information, collaboratively address water issues and promote continuous improvements.

The Yukon Water Strategy and Action Plan provides us with a comprehensive approach for making water management decisions. Effectiveness on the implementation of the Strategy will be monitored by a Yukon government interdepartmental working group that will produce an evaluation and report on progress after five years.

As stated in the strategy, it is our vision that the quality, quantity and overall health of waters flowing through Yukon lands are sustained for all living things now and in the future. We’re embarking on these principles and 55 action items with sustainability, conservation, adaptability, security, stewardship, cooperation, respect and communication in mind.

For more information, and to read the Strategy and Action Plan, visit yukonwater.ca.