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April 28, 2016
 
 

Five New Regulations Registered as BC’s New Water Sustainability Act Takes Effect

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British Columbia’s new Water Sustainability Act (WSA) formally took effect on February 29, 2016. The Act replaces many parts of the old Water Act to create a new regulatory regime for water management in BC.

Under the WSA, all groundwater users (except domestic wells) will require a water licence to divert water from an aquifer (unless the diversion is otherwise authorized under the regulations). Groundwater licence applications can be submitted through FrontCounter BC.As part of the WSA coming into force, five related regulations were enacted.

These comprise:
 
  • the Water Sustainability Regulation which sets the scope for applications for licensing of surface and groundwater diversions and use, requirements for change approvals, amendments to licences and approvals, land expropriation and sensitive stream regulation. Access at:
  •  a new Groundwater Protection Regulation which contains provisions for the construction, identification, maintenance, deactivation and decommissioning of groundwater wells.
  •  a new Dam Safety Regulation which establishes requirements for determination of dam failure consequences classification, safety, emergency response plans, inspections and installation of monitoring equipment.
  • the Water District Regulation which establishes 26 water districts across the province to which the regulators may issue licences to divert and use water.
  •  the Water Sustainability Fees, Rentals and Charges Tariff Regulation which sets out the application fees, rental periods and rates, and penalty amounts for overdue accounts. Application fees range from C$250 to C$10,000 and annual rental fees range from C$0.11 to C$2.25/1,000m3 depending upon the activity using the water.

In addition, Violation Ticket Administration and Fines Regulation under the Offence Act was amended to add offences and fines under the WSA.
 
While the majority of the WSA came into effect at the end of February, Part 18, which provides for quick licensing procedures, has yet to be brought into force.

The province predicts the next phase of the regulations and policies will be brought into effect in late 2016. This phase will include regulations relating to measuring and reporting, livestock watering, water objectives, planning and governance.

 

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