Water use in the oil and gas industry is another common theme in the comments we’ve received to date. The proposed Water Sustainability Act would apply to the oil and gas industry just like any other sector. Currently, authorizations for surface water used by the oil and gas sector are made through an Approval for short-term water use (up to 24 months) or under a Water Licence for longer-term uses.
Provisions in the new WSA that would affect the oil and gas sector include the following:
- Groundwater regulation – water used for oil and gas operations including hydraulic fracturing would require an authorization under the new Act, regardless of whether the water is surface or groundwater. An exemption is being considered for deep saline groundwater—water that is typically unsuitable for drinking and irrigation, but could be viable for some commercial purposes.
- Decision-makers will be required to consider environmental flows for all new Approvals and Licences.
- Water objectives and water sustainability plans proposed under the Act would apply and may establish specific requirements or objectives for an area.
- Measuring and reporting on water use will be required for all large users including the oil and gas sector. The B.C. Oil and Gas Commission already requires industry to regularly report water use and publically disclose ingredients used for hydraulic fracturing.
- Government would be able to regulate licence and approval holders to meet critical environmental flows during times of drought/scarcity.
Government is also assessing fees and rentals for various water uses (surface and groundwater) including the oil and gas sector. And in completing the new Act we are looking closely at the Oil and Gas Activities Act and the Environmental Management Act to ensure that surface and groundwater are protected during hydraulic fracturing operations.
Send us your comments on the Water Sustainability Act legislative proposal by leaving a comment on the blog.