British Columbia's new Water Sustainability Act received
Royal Assent in May 2014 and is expected to come into force in
early 2016. The Act replaces the century-old Water Act and aims to
address modern water issues.
Much of the Act's heavy-lifting is being done through a
gradual implementation of regulations developed in conjunction with
public consultation. The first phase of this process involved
public feedback on the government's water pricing proposals and
resulted in a new water fee and rental schedule being released this
The next phase of the consultation process is underway, with the
release of four policy proposal papers and the government's
request for comments. These papers address proposed policies and
regulations relating to groundwater licencing, groundwater
protection, dam safety, and compliance and enforcement. Each of
these initial regulations are, pending government review and
approval, expected to be brought into force with the Act in 2016. A
summary of each is provided below.
This paper provides an overview of the regulation of groundwater
use under the new Act and the proposed policies relating to
A key feature of the new Act is that groundwater use, previously
unregulated, will now be subject to similar rules that govern
surface water use. All non-domestic groundwater users will be
required to obtain a licence and begin paying water licencing
Well owners who apply within three years of the Act coming into
force can seek recognition of a priority date based on their
historic date of first use. Any applications made after the 3 year
period would receive a new priority date based on the date of the
Recognition of a historic date of first use is important because
the new regime will follow the First-In-Time, First-In-Right
(FITFIR) system, meaning that in times of scarcity, those with
earlier priority dates will have the right to use their full
allocation of water before junior licensees.
The new regulation also proposes a number of exceptions to the
FITFIR system, such as giving priority to domestic-use wells during
water shortages and by temporarily limiting or stopping groundwater
usage when it would threaten environmental flow or aquifer
This paper outlines a number of proposed measures aimed at
preventing groundwater contamination. The measures will apply to
all groundwater users, both domestic and non-domestic. The
government proposes to:
require that all well-related
activities be conducted by qualified professions;
regulate new well locations to
protect the integrity of the FITFIR system;
implement improved management and
monitor controls to ensure stormwater runoff does not contaminate
enact requirements that ensure
artesian wells do not cause environmental or property damage;
prohibit, with limited exceptions,
the new construction of well pits (an outdated well technology) due
to the risk of contamination they pose;
enact a number of requirements that
ensure proper well maintenance; and
authorize the government to
deactivate or decommission 'not in service' wells after a
period of time.
The paper discusses the proposed new Dam Safety Regulation.
Building on existing dam safety policies, the government proposes
expand dam safety regulation to apply
to groundwater-based dams, which previously had only applied to
surface water-based dams;
require dam owners to prepare more
thorough Emergency Preparedness Plans;
improve communication between dam
owners and authorities, including greater transparency of dam
management records and making more stringent notification
requirements in order to more effectively respond to emergencies;
increase mandatory reviews of
Compliance and Enforcement
The final paper outlines proposed new offences and fines, not
previously included under the Water Act. These include offences
related to beneficial use of water, groundwater licensing and
enhanced protection of ecosystems. These will be incorporated into
an updated Violation Ticket Administration and Fines Regulation.
The proposed regulation would give government new powers to impose
and collect fines and the ability to order site remediation in lieu
of a fine.
The published deadline for comments and questions on the
proposed polices is September 8, 2015. For more information, each
proposal paper can be found here. Comments can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Canada is a constitutional monarchy, a parliamentary democracy and a federation comprised of ten provinces and three territories. Canada's judiciary is independent of the legislative and executive branches of Government.
The Government of Alberta recently announced a number of policy changes that will impact the Alberta Electricity Market, composed of its generators, transmitters, distributors, retailers, electricity consumers and wholesale electricity market.
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