Water Engagement Initiative

The Water Engagement Initiative is an inclusive public process, where interests are shared to improve water management in the Nechako River.

The Water Engagement Initiative (WEI) is led by independent facilitators and supported by technical specialists to identify opportunities to better address multiple interests related to Rio Tinto’s operations. Together, we are identifying changes to our operations that better reflect a broad range of community interests.

Since June of 2019, through broad based engagement, approximately 40 individuals have been actively participating in the WEI, sharing a wide range of interests, issues and concerns spanning three geographic areas: the Nechako Reservoir, Skins-Cheslatta-Murray Lake system, and the Nechako River.

You can read our latest update here.


Step 1 (2017)

Pre-engagement on methods and topics for the water engagement

Step 2 (January – March 2018)

Report out on Step 1 and develop plan for focused Water Engagement Initiative.

Step 3 (March – July 2018)

Launch search for independent facilitator (EDI Environmental Dynamics Inc. selected)

Step 4

Broad based engagement to gain an understanding of interests to be addressed. Includes public meetings, small group workshops and one on one dialogue.

Step 5

This step focuses on the development of options to address interests raised in Step 4.

Step 6 (Future stage)

Report back and present draft options for further refinement. Includes public meetings, small group workshops and one on one dialogue.

Step 7 (Future stage)

Finalise options and develop implementation plan, including regulatory approval where required.

Meet our team of independent facilitators and technical specialists:

Rahul Ray

Rahul Ray
Environmental Dynamics Inc
Lead Independent Facilitator

Rahul is the Chief Strategic Initiatives Officer and a senior environmental planner with EDI. In his project role, Rahul’s planning and facilitation work is supported by his education and experience in the biological and social sciences. He has facilitated major planning processes involving Indigenous communities; municipal, provincial and federal levels of government; and stakeholders designed to reach mutually-beneficial solutions. He has prepared baseline studies, led community engagement programs, and conducted assessments for major projects across western Canada over the past 15 years. Rahul is a Registered Professional Planner in British Columbia and a Member of the Canadian Institute of Planners.

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Michael Harstone, MSc, PEng

Michael Harstone, MSc, PEng

Michael Harstone is a Principal at Compass with over twenty years of experience working in the water sector as a decision analyst, environmental planner, water resources engineer, and facilitator. He has led the development and implementation of a number of regional, provincial, and transboundary water resource management technical and public planning processes and this work has included the modernization of the former BC Water Act, Metro Vancouver Water Shortage Response Plan, Elk Valley Water Quality Plan, Mackenzie River Basin Transboundary Bilateral Agreements, BC Winter Flow Requirements, Township of Langley Water Management Plan, Site C Technical Advisory Committee process, and designed and facilitated the development of seven public Water Use Plans (WUPs) for BC Hydro and facilitated Metro Vancouver’s Joint Capilano – Seymour WUP. Michael also has led a number of other local water based planning assignments for local governments and communities including Wapiti River Water Management Plan (City of Grande Prairie), Moberly Lake Watershed Plan (Saulteau First Nation), Nicola Valley Water Use Management Plan, City of Merritt’s Integrated Source Water Plan, Salt Spring Island’s St Mary Lake IWMP, Columbia Basin Trust’s CRT community consultations, etc. In 2018, Michael facilitated the technical and public advisory process (and led the consulting team) on the Cowichan Water Use Plan for the CVRD, Cowichan Tribes, Catalyst Paper and the Cowichan Watershed Board. More recently, Michael was the lead analyst facilitating the technical advisory group processes for both the Regional District of Nanaimo (2019) and CVRD’s (2019-2020) Drinking Water and Watershed Protection Plans. And in 2021, Michael was the lead planner for the G2G Nicola Watershed Governance Project between the province and five participating First Nations towards the establishment of environmental flow needs (EFN) thresholds that would be protective of both environmental and cultural values based on flow releases to the Nicola River.

Michael has a Masters of Science in Environmental Resources Planning (SCARP) and a Bachelor of Applied Science in water resources engineering from the University of British Columbia (UBC). He was also a contributing author to the book Structured Decision Making: A Practical Guide to Environmental Management Choices (Wiley-Blackwell, 2012) and is an instructor delivering Compass’ SDM training workshops.

Jayson Kurtz

Jayson Kurtz

Registered Professional Biologist

Jason is a Registered Professional Biologist with over 25 years’ experience in fisheries and aquatics sciences in both private consulting and government. He is well versed in resource management planning with industry, Indigenous Groups, government, and other stakeholders. Mr Kurtz has several years’ direct experience in Water Use Planning; he was the DFO representative on 8 BC Hydro WUPs in the Southern Interior and Peace Regions. In that role, he helped develop, author and edit various action plans and technical studies, specifically using adaptive management and value-based Structured Decision Making. Jayson’s Water Use Planning and general hydroelectric experience provides him with a broad understanding of environmental/ecological, social/cultural, and operational issues regarding hydroelectric facilities and river flow regulation. Mr Kurtz first worked on the Nechako River in 1994, electrofishing juvenile chinook salmon as part of the Nechako Fisheries Conservation Program, and has since broadened his experience and knowledge of the Nechako watershed and Rio Tinto operations from his employment with DFO (Prince George) and Ecofish (Terrace). Jayson has extensive experience working with Indigenous Groups, having participated in consultation, community engagement and knowledge-holder interviews, and is familiar with Indigenous and public interests and concerns regarding the Nechako watershed.

News and Upcoming Events

Document Library


Technical Memos to Support Issue Scoping and Performance Measure Development

Nechako Drought Conditions: FAQ

Sustainability Update (2022) Released

BC Works has released its 2022 Sustainability Update that highlights our contributions to the local and BC economy, our community investments, our environmental and biodiversity performance and more.

Our approach to sustainability is guided by Rio Tinto’s purpose: finding better ways to provide the materials the world needs. In 2022, many of our investments were focused on assisting the low-carbon transition, as well as our of being the best possible partner to our host communities.

Community Presentations

As part of Rio Tinto BC Works’ commitment to transparency about its operations, the Rio Tinto watershed team meets frequently with community leaders and stakeholders to provide updates about reservoir operations and other pertinent matters. Presentations are posted here for all to view.

Dam Emergency Plan and Inundation Maps

As part of our commitment to safety and in adherence with regulatory requirements, Rio Tinto BC Works has prepared a Dam Emergency Plan (DEP). The DEP was developed with input from first responders, technical experts and stakeholders, among others, and provides detailed information regarding the potential flooding impacts downstream of the Nechako Reservoir to assist downstream communities prepare emergency response plans, as per BC Dam Safety Guidelines. This document has been shared with relevant authorities, and is available to all interested parties. You can also access individual inundation maps

Water License / Operating Agreements

Agreements and a water licence govern the management of the Nechako Reservoir, along with regulatory requirements.

Technical Working Group Meeting Summaries

1 TWG Summary 3_October_2019 (572.2 KB) (pdf) 2 TWG Summary 14_Nov_2019 (488.6 KB) (pdf) 3 TWG Summary 18_December_2019 (490.1 KB) (pdf) 4 TWG Summary 8_January_2020 (299.5 KB) (pdf) 5 TWG Summary 29_January_2020 (489.3 KB) (pdf) 6 TWG Summary 26_February_2020 (289.8 KB) (pdf) 7 TWG Summary 29_April_2020 (495.2 KB) (pdf) 8 TWG Summary 27_May_2020 (493.2 KB) (pdf) 9 TWG Summary 30_September_2020 (204.2 KB) (pdf) 10 TWG Summary 7_October_2020 (208.0 KB) (pdf) 11 TWG Summary 21_October_2020 (294.9 KB) (pdf) 12 TWG Summary 4_November_2020_final (340.0 KB) (pdf) 13 TWG Summary 18_November_2020 (684.3 KB) (pdf) 14 TWG Summary 2_December_2020 (550.5 KB) (pdf) 15 TWG Summary 16_December_2020 (610.3 KB) (pdf) 16 TWG Summary 27_January_2021 (595.4 KB) (pdf) 17 TWG Summary 18_February_2021 (798.3 KB) (pdf) 18 TWG Summary 3_March_2021 (785.6 KB) (pdf) 19 TWG Summary 31_March_2021 (220.6 KB) (pdf) 20 TWG Summary 14_April_2021 (337.8 KB) (pdf) 21 TWG Summary 28_April_2021 (286.3 KB) (pdf) 22 TWG Summary 12_May_2021 (230.4 KB) (pdf) 23 TWG Summary 9_June_2021 (271.2 KB) (pdf) 24 TWG Summary 23_June_2021 (114.2 KB) (pdf) 26 TWG Summary 7_July_2021 (215.3 KB) (pdf) 27 TWG Summary 21_July_2021 (170.6 KB) (pdf) 28 TWG Summary 8_September_2021 (204.2 KB) (pdf) 29 TWG Summary 22_September_2021 (213.2 KB) (pdf) 30_TWG_Meeting_Summary_December_15_2021 (539.8 KB) (pdf) 31_TWG_Meeting_Summary_Wednesday_January_19_2022 (525.0 KB) (pdf) 32_TWG_Meeting_Summary_Wednesday_March_30_2022[45] (539.8 KB) (pdf) TWG presentation for MT Sept 21 2022 (18.9 MB) (pdf) () ()