Blog Post #23 – Amendments to Water Sustainability Act Regulations

Since the Water Sustainability Act (WSA) and regulations were brought into effect, government has made a number of amendments to the regulations.  Amendments are typically used to fine-tune legislation and address unintended consequences.  This fall, four minor amendments to the Water Sustainability Regulation and the Water Sustainability Fees, Rentals and Charges Tariff Regulation were approved by government. Blog Post 22 describes one amendment to extend the application fee waiver for existing groundwater users. The other three are described below.

  1. Extend the temporary exemption that allows the diversion of water for mineral exploration and small-scale placer mining activities for the 2018 calendar year.

The allowance for water used for mineral exploration and small-scale placer activities (subject to requirements to protect fish, aquatic ecosystems and other water users) has been extended until December 31, 2018. Extending the temporary exemption for another year supports business continuity for the 2018 exploration season and gives government time to consult with First Nations and stakeholders on a permanent approach. For more information, check out the December 2017 Information Update.

  1. Exempt the diversion of incidental groundwater seepage from a mine site from authorization requirements.

Incidental seepage into a mine can impact mine infrastructure and cause risks to worker safety. Groundwater seepage can be removed from the mine without an authorization if the water is not used for another purpose and when requirements for environmental protection under the Water Sustainability Regulation are met.  Mine water discharges are already regulated under the Environmental Management Act.

  1. Correcting fees for amendments for Permits over Crown Land (PCLs).

Minor changes to the Water Sustainability Fees, Rentals and Charges Tariff Regulation correct application fees for amendments to Permits over Crown Land. These fees now align with government’s general rule that application fees for changes be 50% of the original application fee, up to a maximum of $1,000.

The above amendments are described in Order in Council 549 (2017) and come into effect immediately. The amendments will be reflected in consolidated versions of the regulations that will be posted to BC Laws in the coming weeks.


More information about the Water Sustainability Act and the new regulations can be found on the Province’s water website. For specific direction and guidance on how to apply for a groundwater licence, please visit FrontCounter BC.