Today signals an important milestone for British Columbia as the Province brings the Water Sustainability Act and into force. The Water Sustainability Act updates and replaces the old Water Act and delivers on an important government commitment to ensure our water stays healthy and secure. Modern legislation is an essential part of caring for this valuable resource for current and future generations.
The Act and new regulations will help protect water flows for ecosystems and fish and include new and improved requirements for groundwater use and licensing, well construction and maintenance, dam safety, and compliance. Much of this work was informed by public comment and the Province’s policy intentions papers that were released last summer.
For the first time, those who use groundwater for non-domestic purposes such as irrigation, industrial use, water bottling or municipal water systems will require a water licence and pay fees and annual water rentals just like surface water users. For existing groundwater users, the regulations provide a three-year transition period in which to apply for a licence; application fees will be waived during the first year. More information about applying for a groundwater licence is available from FrontCounterBC and in this WSA overview brochure.
With the size and complexity of the WSA and the number of required regulations, government is implementing the new Act using a phased approach. Work on the next phase of regulations and policies will be initiated later this year and includes measuring and reporting, livestock watering, water objectives, planning and governance.
More information about the Water Sustainability Act and the new regulations can be found at:http://www.gov.bc.ca/water