The Province of British Columbia has regulations and legal requirements that need to be observed when working in and around water. These requirements are enforced by the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations, and Rural Development (FLNRORD) and include the Water Sustainability Act and Regulation.
BC Water Sustainability Act and Regulation
The Water Sustainability Act (WSA) has been modernized; the updated Act came into force in early 2016. An approval under Section 11 of the WSA or a notification under part 3 of the Regulation is required, depending on the type of work that is being proposed. A number of routine works can be carried out under the notification process, provided that particular conditions are met. There is no cost associated with submitting a notification. There is, however, a waiting period of 45 days. If you don’t receive a response from the Ministry within 45 days, you can proceed with the work. An approval or licence under the WSA is required for works not authorized through notification, including in cases involving more complex works, and for the short-term use, storage or diversion of water. A fee of $250 is required as part of the approval application prior to conducting changes in or about a stream. There is a waiting period associated with the review process that is up to 180 days. If an activity is not specifically identified in the WSA and its Regulation, it will require an approval or licence. The following sections of the Water Sustainability Act apply:
- Section 11 regulates “all changes in or about a stream” and requires a Water Sustainability Act approval for any modification to the nature of the stream, including the land, vegetation, natural environment or flow of water within the stream, or any activity or construction within the stream channel that has or may have an impact on a stream.
- Part 3 of the Regulation mandates that water quality, fish and wildlife habitat, and the rights of licensed water users are not compromised.
- The Water Sustainability Act (part 4 and 5) include provisions that regulate groundwater extraction and protection measures.
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