Ministry of Environment
VICTORIA – Environment Minister Mary Polak released the provincial government’s legislative proposal for a new Water Sustainability Act on Oct. 18.
“Modernizing the Water Act was a key commitment in our government’s election platform,” Polak said. “We promised to engage with British Columbians one more time before introducing the proposed Water Sustainability Act into the legislature, which is why we are now asking them to review the legislative proposal and let us know what they think. It’s important we take the necessary steps today to ensure that our water stays healthy and secure for future generations.”
Following extensive stakeholder engagements over the past number of years, Polak invites all British Columbians to review the proposal and submit final comments before the act is introduced during the spring 2014 legislative session.
The proposed Water Sustainability Act will update and replace the existing Water Act, respond to current and future pressures on water, and position B.C. as a leader in water stewardship.
Since 2009, the B.C. government has engaged widely, and received suggestions and ideas on an unprecedented scale and quality with more than 2,250 written submissions from individual citizens, First Nations organizations and stakeholder groups. This is the third time that government has invited British Columbians to comment on its proposals for a new Water Sustainability Act.
Consistent with the engagement feedback received to date, the Water Sustainability Act will make improvements in seven key areas, to:
* Protect stream health and aquatic environments.
* Consider water in land-use decisions.
* Regulate and protect groundwater.
* Regulate water use during times of scarcity.
* Improve security, water use efficiency and conservation.
* Measure and report large scale water use.
* Provide for a range of governance approaches.
During the next four weeks, British Columbians are encouraged to share their comments through an online blog. In addition to the legislative proposal, there will be a number of successive blog posts about the proposed new act.
Participants can submit their feedback on the blog, or by email, fax or post, until Nov. 15, 2013. All input received by the deadline will be posted online. This feedback will help refine the final legislation and will also assist government as it develops the subsequent regulations and plans for detailed implementation.
“It is simple, without water security there can be no food security,” said Kevin Boon, general manager of the BC Cattlemen’s Association. “As holders of some of the oldest water licences in the province, ranchers take water stewardship very seriously. Our goal has been to ensure that the Water Sustainability Act provides ranchers and farmers with access to dependable water supplies now and in the future to meet our growing demand.”