GROUNDWATER LICENSING IN BRITISH COLUMBIA IS A CRISIS IN THE MAKING: “But no amount of localized planning for healthy, more resilient watersheds will be credible if we don’t have a firm handle on who is using our shared water resources and how much they are using. And that assessment absolutely has to include licensed groundwater users who are in compliance,” stated Donna Forsyth, former legislative adviser in B.C.’s Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy, in an article for The Tyee (February 2022)

Note to Reader:

British Columbia’s groundwater licensing regulation is a foundation piece for successful implementation of the Water Sustainability Act (WSA), passed in 2016. The WSA is once-in-a-generation, transformational legislation. The 6-year transition period for groundwater licensing ends on March 1, 2022. 

The Big Water Deadline that Thousands Will Miss

“(March 1, 2022 is) the day that all businesses in the province who rely on well water or groundwater to run their operations must, by law, have applied for a licence to continue to use that water. The trouble is, it looks likely that three quarters of all such businesses, nearly 15,000 in total, will not have applied for those licences, and therefore will be using water illegally,” wrote Donna Forsyth, Ben Parfitt and Mike Wei in an opinion piece published by The Tyee.

“What will the government do, come March 1? Enforce a law that it passed with broad support from both the governing party and opposition, and effectively shut businesses down by turning off their taps? Or will it turn a blind eye and allow thousands of business owners to use their water illegally, while their counterparts who did the right thing and applied for their licences follow the law?”

To Learn More:

To read the complete article by Donna Forsyth et al as published in The Tyee, download a PDF copy of The Big Water Deadline that Thousands Will Miss.

In September 2021, Partnership for Water Sustainability called for action to rectify a chaotic situation, provide a dedicated budget, and get groundwater licensing implementation back on track

The Partnership’s Ted van der Gulik made the case for a total investment of $300 million over a 10-year period when he explained the critical nature of the situation to the Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services on September 30, 2021 as part of its Budget 2022 Consultation process. Ted van der Gulik was compelling. His call to action resonated.

“For months now, the Partnership has been raising the red flag regarding the consequences of government NOT making a last ditch, all-out effort to urge historical groundwater users to apply for their licences before the deadline. If they do not do so, they will lose their historical rights and be considered illegal uses of water,” Ted van der Gulik, Partnership President said to the members of the Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services on September 30, 2021.

“Without a substantial influx of funding, the situation will become even more complex – and volatile.”