2015 – 2016
Updating and Replacing Water Act Regulations
Three regulations — the Water Regulation, the Ground Water Protection Regulation, and the Dam Safety Regulation — were authorized under the historic Water Act. When the new Water Sustainability Act (WSA) came into force on February 29, 2016, it repealed the Water Act and these three regulations. In order to maintain the continuity of core water management functions through this transition, government developed a set of similar and updated regulations authorized under the WSA.
Government engaged extensively with key user groups and professionals on aspects of these regulations. In July 2015 government released papers describing proposed policies related to a set of core water management functions. The papers discuss:
- Licensing groundwater use and assigning related water rights. Proposed policies encourage existing groundwater users to apply early for a licence.
- Requirements for constructing and maintaining wells and protecting groundwater, including the management of artesian flows and the deactivation and decommissioning of unused wells.
- Provisions to enhance dam safety; and reduce risk related to a dam failure, including more stringent requirements for emergency planning and annual review of downstream conditions.
- New offences and fines, including offences related to the beneficial use of water, groundwater licensing, and enhanced protection of aquatic ecosystems. – including groundwater licensing, groundwater protection, dam safety, and compliance.
Government invited British Columbians – including First Nations – to provide comments and recommendations related to these proposed policies.
Government considered this input in the fall of 2015 while completing new regulations, authorized under the WSA, that came into force on January 29, 2016 along with the WSA.
In general, the new WSA regulations:
- maintain many elements of the existing Water Act regulations;
- contain updated legal language;
- include section references and terminology aligned with the WSA;
- revise some existing policies; and
- introduce new policies authorized by the WSA (e.g., related to groundwater )