The Province of BC on February 29, 2016 announced several initial regulations that have now come into force under the Water Sustainability Act.
Some of the highlights are as follows:
Water Sustainability Regulation
- mandates the licensing of groundwaterAll water beneath the surface of the ground whether in liquid or solid state. for non-domestic use – this includes community water supply, agricultural irrigation, industry etc.
- groundwaterAll water beneath the surface of the ground whether in liquid or solid state. users (non-domestic) will have a one-year grace period to apply for a license and have the application fee waived.
- groundwaterAll water beneath the surface of the ground whether in liquid or solid state. users have three years (from Feb. 29, 2016) to apply for a license if they want to maintain their priority date of first use.
- all applications received after March 1, 2019 will be treated as new users, with no historic priority date of use.
GroundwaterAll water beneath the surface of the ground whether in liquid or solid state. Protection Regulation
- outlines operating and maintenance requirements and standards for groundwaterAll water beneath the surface of the ground whether in liquid or solid state. wells.
- mandates the submission of well records for newly drilled wells.
Other new regulations include: Dam Safety Regulation, Violation Ticket and Fines Regulation, Fees and Rentals Regulation.
Onward from 2016, further essential regulations will be developed under the Water Sustainability Act such as:
- Water Objectives
- Water Sustainability Plans
- Measuring and reporting
- Licence reviews
- Designated areas
- Dedicated agricultural water; and
- Alternative governance approaches
For more information see the Provincial website at https://engage.gov.bc.ca/watersustainabilityact/
For more analysis of the opportunities that the new Act provides, you may be interested in the POLIS Project of Ecological Governance report entitled Awash with Opportunity: Ensuring the Sustainability of BC’s New Water Law
The Regional District of Nanaimo Board has forwarded a resolution regarding Rainwater as a Potable Water Source to the Association of Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities (AVICC) for consideration at their 2016 AGM and convention in April.
If the resolution is adpoted at the AVICC convention, then it is forwarded to the Union of BC Municipalities convention in September.
The resolution urges the Province via the Ministry of Health to develop rainwater-specific:
- treatment objectives and standards
- source characterization protocols
- infrastructure requirements
… for small water systems in BC that are regulated under the Drinking Water Protection Act. Small water systems purvey water to the public, for example community centres, restaurants, mobile home parks etc. The need for this resolution comes from the fact that many small water systems that operate under the Act exist in water-stressed locations and would benefit from utilizing rainwater as an alternate / additional source of water to protect and reduce demandWater demand is an estimate of actual water use. on traditional water sources, namely groundwaterAll water beneath the surface of the ground whether in liquid or solid state..
Because rainwater is a non-traditional water source, however, the risks are largely unknown. The quality is inherently variable as collection surfaces and environmental conditions differ from place to place. There are currently no provincial rainwater treatment objectives or standards for characterizing rainwater as a drinking water source. There is currently no comprehensive provincial guidance or framework of requirements for water systems to safely develop and use rainwater for potable purposes.
This lack of guidance and standards makes it difficult for water system operators to confidently and consistently address the safety requirements, and makes it difficult for the local health officers to approve rainwater source proposals. Ultimately this limits the successful utilization of rainwater as a potentially suitable additional water source to increase resiliency in rural areas.
If the Province, via the Ministry of Health, had a comprehensive framework that was developed through research, it would improve the prospect of rainwater being used as a safe alternative drinking water source. This is what the RDN is urging of the Province, to ultimately build community self-sufficiency and resilience in rural areas.
See the report to the RDN Board and attached resolution, here:
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