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BCGWA to update ground water regulation handbook


February 21, 2017
By Ground Water Canada

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This year, the British Columbia Ground Water Association, in partnership with GeoExchange BC, is endeavouring to update the BC Ground Water Protection Regulation Handbook to reflect the changes to the Groundwater Protection Regulation.

Last October, the BCGWA received a grant of $30,000 from the Ministry of Environment, and put in $15,000 of its own funds (mainly leftover grant money from previous projects) to finance the project, said Kathy Tixier, general manager of the BCGWA.

Hydrogeology consulting firm Groundwater Solutions in Nanaimo is designing and producing the guide, Tixier said.

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The firm will be working closely with a BCGWA committee comprising experienced Ministry staff, hydrogeologists, well pump installers and representatives from different classes of drilling (water well geotech/environmental and geoexchange). The handbook will present the regulation using plain language, photos, and illustrations, and will incorporate links to best practices, Ministry brochures and fact sheets, online calculators and other tools. The handbook is designed to be both printable and portable for the convenience of contractors.  

In October 2016, the British Columbia Ground Water Association facilitated two public information sessions on the new Groundwater Protection Regulation and ground water licensing requirements under the Water Sustainability Regulation. These sessions were led by officials from the Ministry of Environment and Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations.

The sessions, which were held in tandem with BCGWA regional meetings in Parksville and Prince George, were well attended, Tixier said.

About 70 people came out to the Prince George meeting, among them cattlemen, foresters, farmers, pulp and paper companies, municipalities, and others who rely on water wells for their businesses. About 60 people came out to a meeting in Parksville, many of them hobby farmers and small water purveyors. A good showing of local ground water consultants and tradesmen (drillers and well pump installers) also attended both sessions.

Those who came out were receptive to the information provided by Ministry officials, who explained that one of the purposes behind the licensing is to have better information on which to base water management decisions when problems arise, particularly in water-limited areas such as the Okanagan Valley. 

“People are still getting their head around the licensing process and whether or not their particular water use requires a licence,” Tixier said. “The meetings were useful in clearing up some of the fog.”

With fewer than 100 licence applications on file, the Ministry has extended the deadline for existing non-domestic ground water users to apply for a licence to Dec. 31, 2017.Specific direction on how to apply for a ground water licence is available at FrontCounter BC or by contacting your local ground water manager or ground water protection officer.