1 Water Sustainability Act | West Coast Environmental Law

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Water Sustainability Act

CPR for Rivers - the Need for Regulations to Conserve, Protect, and Restore Environmental Flows in BC

1 December, 2015

Water, water everywhere. At this wet time of year, it may not seem that protecting the amount of water flowing in streams and rivers throughout the province is a top priority. Yet when you think back to this summer’s severe drought, or read that we’re headed for another troubling year for sockeye, as spawning salmon returns are far lower than predicted, it becomes clear why West Coast Environmental Law and many allies recently wrote to the government of BC setting out our Expectations for Environmental Flows Regulations  under the BC Water Sustainability Act. Our number one point: the government needs to have an environmental flows regulation. 

Water, water everywhere. At this wet time of year, it may not seem that protecting the amount of water flowing in streams and rivers throughout the province is a top priority.

Pricing the priceless: Why BC’s new water prices don’t violate NAFTA

17 July, 2015

We have suggested that BC's new water rates are too low - an assessment shared by the signatories to a SumofUs.org petition signed by 225,000 people. As a result, the BC government has commited to review its water rates. But with former MLA Judy Tyabji suggesting that we warned against higher water rates in a 1999 opinion, we want to clarify that there is room to increase water rates dramatically without running afoul of NAFTA or other trade agreements.

When the BC government unveiled its new water pricing scheme, we wrote that while a major increase, the amounts being charged seemed very low.

Is this glass half full, and what should it cost?

11 February, 2015

Last Thursday (February 5th) the BC government unveiled its new pricing framework for water use in BC. The new pricing for BC water was undertaken after extensive public consultations, in which, the government reports, “a consistent message from British Columbians was that water is undervalued,” but the pricing regime for BC water still clocks in as among the lowest in the country. We take a look at what some businesses might expect to pay going forward. 

Is this glass half full, and what should it cost?

The strengths and weaknesses of the new Water Sustainability Act

14 March, 2014

The BC Government introduced its long-promised Water Sustainability Act in the BC Legislature on Tuesday.  As we said when the government started its last round of public consultation on the proposed Act:

Water, and how we treat our water, is one of those fundamental issues that touches on so much of who we are, what we do, and how we build our economy.  A weak Water Sustainability Act could fail to deal with current unsustainable and inefficient water use, and could lock in these problems for years to come.  A strong Act could address past over-use, and wasteful use, of water and protect drinking water and fish from over-use, poor oil and gas, logging or mining practices, and other threats.

The BC Government introduced its long-promised Water Sustainability Act in the BC Legislature on Tuesday.  As we said when the government started its last round of public consultation on the proposed Act:

Should industry frack with our water?

14 November, 2013

Hydraulic fracturing – which uses and pollutes a whole lot of water – should be a major discussion point within the public consultations on a new Water Sustainabilty Act (taking place until this Friday, November 15th).  BC’s Environment Minister, Mary Polak, has argued that the provincial government's promise of “Cleanest LNG” should be evaluated in terms of its impacts on water.  However, the Water Sustainability Act proposal presumes without discussion that water will be made available for this controversial oil and gas industrial process.   We are not fans of fracking, for a variety of reasons.  However, if BC wants to have its promise of “Cleanest LNG” judged in terms of its impacts on water resources, then the proposed Water Sustainability Act does not do enough.

Several people have asked us what the proposed Water Sustainability Act (on which the BC government is consulting the public until this Friday, November 15th) says about hydraulic fracturing (a.k.a. fracking).  The Water Sustainability Act is about deciding how water should be used and protected in BC.  So hydraulic fracturing – which uses and pollutes a whole lot of water – should certainly be a major discussion point within the public consultations on a new Act. 

Who benefits from water in BC?

8 November, 2013

The current public consultation on a new BC Water Sustainability Act represents a perfect opportunity to ask: who should benefit from BC’s water?  Because right now the proposed Water Sustainability Act focuses on ensuring that private benefits from using water continue, locking in a private-interest focus that will make it difficult for British Columbia to protect stream health and to respond to a changing climate. Instead we need an act which moves us towards a truly sustainable water system, protecting stream health and placing that responsibility ahead of private interests.

The current public consultation on a new BC Water Sustainability Act (until November 15th) represents a perfect opportunity to ask: who should benefit from BC’s water?  Because right now the proposed Water Sustainability Act focuses on ensuring that private benefits from using water continue – potentially at the expense of stream health, drinking water and other public benefits – except in exceptional circumstances.  A law that truly focused on water sustainability should (as British Col

Water Sustainability Act and Groundwater

8 November, 2013

About one out of every four British Columbians relies on wells for drinking water.  Groundwater is also essential to BC’s agricultural sector and is critical for habitat for salmon and other fish species.  So it’s welcome news that BC is planning to finally regulate groundwater use under the proposed Water Sustainability Act (which the government is consulting British Columbians on until November 15th).  But we need to be sure that these new rules on groundwater use don’t lock in unsustainable water use, and allow us to get a handle on how groundwater should be licensed is BC. 

About one out of every four British Columbians relies on wells for drinking water.  Groundwater is also essential to BC’s agricultural sector and is critical for habitat for salmon and other fish species.  And British Columbians have been incensed that

Water for fish and the Water Sustainability Act

5 November, 2013

Imagine a lake, stream or river that you love.  Or perhaps rely upon for your drinking water or livelihood.  That’s what the current BC government consultations on a new Water Sustainability Act - which are going on until November 15th - are about: is the government doing enough to protect our lakes, streams and wetlands. Unfortunately, while there are some improvements in the proposed Water Sustainability Actover the current Water Act, stream health still has a low priority – at least in relation to existing water users.

Imagine a lake, stream or river that you love.  Or perhaps rely upon for your drinking water or livelihood.  That’s what the current government consultations on a new Water Sustainability Act are about – that, and is the government doing enough to protect our lakes, streams and wetlands.  It may seem like BC  has an abundance of fresh water, but the BC government reports that there are 5,000 water sources in the province that - due to overuse or industrial operations or for other reasons - have issues with quality or quantity.  With climate change and in

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