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August 27, 2015

British Columbia: Proposed Water Sustainability Act Policies for Comment

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On July 30, 2015, the BC government issued four policies associated with its proposed Water Sustainability Act ("WSA") for public comment.

Due to the complexity of the new act and the number of proposed regulations, government is taking a phased approach to implementation.

The Government has released four papers describing proposed new policies related to core water management activities.  The papers discuss:
  • Licensing groundwater use and assigning related water rights. Proposed policies encourage existing groundwater users to apply early for a licence. 
  • Requirements for constructing and maintaining wells and protecting groundwater, including the management of artesian flows and the deactivation and decommissioning of unused wells. 
  • Provisions to enhance dam safety; and reduce risk related to a dam failure, including more stringent requirements for emergency planning and annual review of downstream conditions.
  • New offences and fines, including offences related to the beneficial use of water, groundwater licensing, and enhanced protection of aquatic ecosystems.
Pending government review and approval, the proposed policies are to be incorporated into new regulations that would come into force along with the Water Sustainability Act in 2016.

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