Senior staff with the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations found a capacity crowd waiting for them at the Farmers’ Institute meeting room last Wednesday for an information session on new groundwater licensing requirements.
The Water Sustainability Act, which went into effect Feb. 29, 2016, requires anyone using a well for non-domestic purposes to apply for water rights and pay an annual rental fee, similar to how surface water rights are governed.
Speaking at the information session for agricultural users sponsored by the Salt Spring Island Watershed Protection Authority, Pat Lapcevic, FLNRO’s water protection head for the region, said the new legislation has two main goals in addition to protecting the public from infrastructure like dams.
“One is it establishes the rules and procedures for the fair allocation of water,” she said, noting surface water and groundwater are all part of one system. Another major goal is to protect water resources for the future. “It’s ensuring the decisions being made today have some lasting effect and consider climate change and consider the long-term impact of using water.”