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Fee changes aim to protect ground water: B.C. government


February 6, 2015
By Ground Water Canada

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Feb. 6, 2015, Victoria – Users of ground water in British Columbia will require a water licence and will be
required to pay water fees and rentals, with the exception of individual
household wells, said the provincial government.

Feb. 6, 2015, Victoria – Users of ground water in British Columbia will require a water licence and will be
required to pay water fees and rentals, with the exception of individual
household wells, said the provincial government.

The B.C. Ministry of Environment said in a news release it is taking steps to ensure
British Columbia’s water resources will be safely and effectively
managed for generations.

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To support B.C.’s modernized water legislation a
new fee and rental schedule for users is being introduced.

The new fee and rental rates will recover the costs of
implementing the new Water Sustainability Act (WSA), including, for the
first time, ground water regulation. Unlike surface water, ground water
use has not required permission or payment of fees and rentals.
Regulating and charging for ground water use will correct this imbalance
and further government’s ability to sustainably manage water for future
generations.

 

Users of ground water will require a water licence and will be
required to pay water fees and rentals. The exception is that individual
household wells throughout the province will not be licensed or
charged.

 

Users of ground water will also have the same access rights and
responsibilities as individuals who obtain their water from surface
sources. This includes assurance their rights are considered should any
conflict over water uses arise. Ground water and surface water are one
interconnected resource and need to be managed as such and the new WSA
allows for this, the ministry said.

 

This is the first update to the water fee and rental structure since
2006. Across Canada water rental rates vary considerably, for example,
up to $70 per 1000m3 in Quebec and over $140 in Nova Scotia for some
purposes. B.C.’s new rental rates range from $0.02 to – $2.25 per 1000m3
and will continue to be among the lowest in the country, taking effect
in 2016 when the new WSA comes into force.

 

Highlights of the new rate structure include:

  • Homeowners with wells will be exempt from licensing and fees.
  • Households supplied by municipal water systems may pay $1 to $2 more per year for their water.
  • Surface and ground water users will pay the same fees.

Other examples of the new rate structure include:

  • The water required to irrigate 40 acres of hay in Kamloops
    will increase annually from about $90 to $128.
  • Abbotsford farmer
    with 100 cows will see an annual licence fee change from $25 to $50.
  • A Langley 10 acre nursery farm currently paying $44 annually
    will increase to approximately $62.
  • Water bottling will be charged at the industrial rate of
    $2.25 per 1000m3 — the highest rental rate in the new schedule.

Extensive public consultation, including with user groups, helped to
determine the new rate structure, the MOE said. In March 2014, the Ministry of
Environment released a discussion paper, "Pricing B.C.’s Water," which
generated over 130 submissions and comments from the public and user
groups. A consistent message from British Columbians was that water is
undervalued.