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March 26, 2015

BC: Government New Fee Schedule for Water Withdrawals

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British Columbia’s Ministry of Environment announced, February 5, 2015, that a new fee and rate schedule for users will take effect in January 2016 to coincide with the implementation of the province’s new Water Sustainability Act (Bill 18-2014; royal assent May 29, 2014).

The new fees and rental rates will be calculated to recover the costs of implementing the Act including, for the first time, a new groundwater regulation that will require users to obtain a water licence and pay water fees and rentals.

Along with the new fees, users of groundwater will also have the same access rights and responsibilities as individuals who obtain their water from surface sources. This includes assurance that their rights are considered should any conflict over water uses arise.

According to a government release, "groundwater and surface water are one interconnected resource and need to be managed as such. The Water Sustainability Act allows for this approach".

The new fee and rental schedule is the first update to the water fee and rental structure since 2006. Across Canada water rental rates vary considerably. For example, users in Quebec are charged up to $70 per 1000m3; while users in Nova Scotia can pay $140 per 1000m3 in some circumstances. BC’s new rental rates will range from $0.02 to $2.25 per 1000m3 and will continue to be among the lowest in the country. The rates take effect in 2016 when the new WSA comes into force.


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