British Columbia (BC) is known for its fresh and pristine water. It’s an important commodity, and essential for public health, nourishing local communities, and creating sustainable environments. To preserve and sustain the supply of BC’s clean water for future generations, the Water Sustainable Act (WSA) came to be.
Established in 2016, the WSA paved the way for changes to the management of water in BC, specifically the addition of specific groundwater requirements:
- Licensing groundwater use
- Fees and rentals for groundwater use
- Stronger protection for aquatic ecosystems
- Improved protection of groundwater (well construction and maintenance)
As such, water license holders who utilize groundwater are required to renew their permits by February 2019 in order to maintain their right to use this water source.
Some of the key items regarding the WSA, and how they pertain to groundwater users and license renewal are as follows:
- Similar to surface water users, anyone who diverts and uses groundwater is required to obtain a license and pay fees and rentals.
- In addition to compulsory licensing, well construction reports must be available upon request.
- The water users that have the following wells require a groundwater license:
- All water supply wells (except household wells)
- Recharge or injection wells made by drilling or boring
- Permanent dewatering wells.
- The one-time license fee for existing groundwater users (those who have currently been using a well before February 29th, 2016) are waived if applications to renew their water license are submitted by February 29th 2019.
- Rentals for water use are due yearly, and apply to existing users who have started to use their well before February 29th, 2016, and new users.
- Request for an additional extension period has recently been denied
It is estimated that 20,000 groundwater users will need to apply and file for licensing by end of February 2019 with the application requiring several pieces of information about groundwater use and work.
And we’re here to help. Stantec’s qualified hydrogeology and groundwater professionals can work with clients under the Groundwater Protection Regulation to apply for groundwater licensing before the February 2019 deadline.