groundwater regulation

    COUNTDOWN TO MARCH 2022 DEADLINE: “Existing groundwater users who have not applied by the deadline will be unlicensed and must stop using groundwater after March 1, 2022, until a licence is obtained,” forewarns the latest Information Bulletin from the Government of British Columbia (September 2021)

    B.C.’s water licensing system is intended to be a fair and transparent process that helps reduce conflicts between water users, particularly in times of drought and water scarcity. Missing the licensing deadline could be costly and may include fines for unlicensed use of groundwater. In response to feedback, the Province has made an effort to improve the online application. “Licensing groundwater helps protect aquifers and streams, along with businesses and livelihoods that depend on reliable access to water,” states Julia Berardinucci, Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy.

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    GROUNDWATER USERS PUT ON NOTICE IN BRITISH COLUMBIA: “If government would follow through with compliance checking for ‘new’ unauthorized water uses, it would certainly send a message and a wake-up call to ALL water users,” stated Ted van der Gulik when the Partnership for Water Sustainability released its second Primer on groundwater licensing (September 2021)

    “It seems to me that government needs to focus on an aspect of groundwater licensing that would be manageable. Specifically, government could choose to focus its enforcement efforts on first contacting owners of wells drilled during the period 2016-2021, then checking whether and how many of the new wells in use are licenced. The number of new groundwater users is a minor fraction of the 16,000 historical groundwater users. Thus, new groundwater use is a more manageable segment to tackle before March 1, 2022,” stated Ted van der Gulik.

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    LIVING WATER SMART IN BRITISH COLUMBIA: “Leadership and enforcement by government would help demonstrate good faith. One key strategy to ensuring people know that government is serious about the water resource is to systematically check compliance and conduct enforcement on unauthorized water use,” stated Mike Wei, former Deputy Comptroller of Water Rights, when commenting on implementation challenges around groundwater licensing (September 2021)

    “It is clear to me that this is much bigger than sending out students or contractors, for example, to talk to farmers and small business owners throughout the Province. The groundwater licensing issue requires someone with profile, such as a Minister or an MLA, to reach out to local community leaders and talk to them about how to engage their communities about the benefits of compliance versus consequences of not applying. Just posting an information bulletin on a government website will not achieve this,” stated Mike Wei.

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