Fee changes to ensure long-term water protection

The provincial government is imposing a new fee and rental schedule to ensure B.C.’s water resources will be safely and effectively managed.

  • Feb. 11, 2015 6:00 a.m.

The provincial government is imposing a new fee and rental schedule to ensure B.C.’s water resources will be safely and effectively managed, states a press release.

The new rates will only recover the costs of implementing the new Water Sustainability Act (WSA) including, for the first time, groundwater regulation. Unlike surface water, groundwater use has not required permission or payment of fees and rentals. Regulating and charging for groundwater use will correct this imbalance and further government’s ability to sustainably manage water for future generations.

Users of groundwater will require a water licence and will be required to pay water fees and rentals. The exception is that individual household wells throughout the province will not be licensed or charged.

Users of groundwater will also have the same access rights and responsibilities as individuals who obtain their water from surface sources.

This includes assurance their rights are considered should any conflict over water uses arise.

This is the first update to the water fee and rental structure since 2006.

Across Canada water rental rates vary considerably, for example, up to $70 per 1,000m3 in Quebec and more than $140 in Nova Scotia for some purposes. B.C.’s new rental rates range from two cents to $2.25 per 1,000m3 and will continue to be among the lowest in the country, taking effect in 2016 when the new WSA comes into force.

Highlights of the new rate structure include:

• Homeowners with wells will be exempt from licensing and fees.

• Households supplied by municipal water systems may pay $1 to $2 more per year for their water.

• Surface and groundwater users will pay the same fees.

• Other examples of the new rate structure include:

• The water required to irrigate 40 acres of hay in Kamloops will increase annually from about $90 to $128.

• An Abbotsford farmer with 100 cows will see an annual licence fee change from $25 to $50.

• A Langley 10 acre nursery farm currently paying $44 annually will increase to approximately $62.

• Water bottling will be charged at the industrial rate of $2.25 per 1000m3 — the highest rental rate in the new schedule.

Extensive public consultation, including with user groups, helped to determine the new rate structure. In March 2014, the Ministry of Environment released a discussion paper, Pricing B.C.’s Water, which generated more than 130 submissions and comments from the public and user groups. A consistent message from British Columbians was that water is undervalued.

Learn more at: http://engage.gov.bc.ca/watersustainabilityact.