Feedback invited on Water Sustainability Act proposal
Environment Minister Mary Polak today released government’s legislative proposal for a new Water Sustainability Act.
Following extensive stakeholder engagements over the past number of years, Polak is inviting 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.
Polak said, “Modernizing the Water Act was a key commitment in our government’s election platform. 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.”
Lorne Hunter, chair of the Water Committee of the British Columbia
Agriculture Council, added, “Sustainable local food production is dependent on access to a stable and affordable water supply.
“B.C. farmers and ranchers support updating the Water Act and hope that it will help protect our food producing capacity for future generations. We appreciate that the Ministry of Environment has sought our input on the issue and look forward to ongoing discussion as the new act is finalized.”
Bruce Ingimundson, managing director, British Columbia Ground Water
Association, said, “The B.C. Ground Water Association is very pleased to see the upcoming enactment of the new Water Sustainability Act. We have been seeking legislation in the form of reasonable regulations to protect the groundwater resource on which so many British Columbians depend. Having worked actively for several years with the Ministry of Environment towards this goal, it is with great anticipation that we look forward to the enactment of the new act and subsequent regulations.”