The Province released four discussion papers in July 2015 describing proposed policies related to groundwater licensing and protection, dam safety, and offences and fines. The public, First Nations, and stakeholder groups were invited to provide feedback until early September.
In response to these policies, government received written comments from 28 organizations and 22 individuals. Additional feedback was received through bilateral meetings with sector organizations. Through a concurrent process, First Nations provided substantial comment through written submissions, regional workshops, teleconferences and government-to-government meetings.
Comments encompassed a wide range of topics and themes including the following:
- Notification requirements related to licensing decisions
- Consideration of water sustainability in licensing decisions
- Value and importance of water to First Nations and their communities
- Aboriginal interests, rights and title and FITFIR
- Availability and quality of data and information
- Water pricing, revenue sharing, capacity funding and shared decision-making
- Connection between fines and orders to the extent of environmental damage
- Determination of hydraulic connectivity between streams and aquifers
- Regulatory consistency and agency coordination
- Involvement of First Nations in water management
- Length of the water licence review period
- Requirements for well registration, monitoring and reporting; and decommissioning
- Managing artesian wells
- Professional qualifications
- Groundwater well setbacks and construction standards
- Requirements related to monitoring risk downstream of a dam.
In preparing draft regulations, the Living Water Smart Team reviewed and considered the many comments and suggestions. The feedback continues to help to inform the development of the first phase of WSA regulations. Copies of individual submissions are posted on the WSA website. A summary of comments will be provided when the WSA and regulations are brought into effect in early 2016.
Living Water Smart Team