The Cariboo Regional District got a resolution passed at the recent Union of BC Municipalities convention that, if enacted by the provincial government, would greatly benefit some Cariboo-Chilcotin ranchers.
CRD chair Al Richmond says ranchers have been told they have to maintain, repair and inspect of their agricultural dams.
In the past, ranchers were given permits to construct earthen dams and then the Ministry Agriculture, Food and Fisheries would have dam inspectors look at them, he explains.
“Now, [government] is trying to shift that whole responsibility to the agricultural sector to maintain these dams.
“Some of these dams are not being maintained, but it’s not easily feasible for the [ranchers] to hire inspectors and they want to certify these dams.”
Therefore, a resolution that “UBCM call on the Province to work with agricultural dam owners to assist them in meeting the requirements of the Dam Safety Regulation in order that these water storage resources are safely preserved for food production and other values in the future” was introduced.
That resolution was followed with another resolution: “UBCM request the Province to fairly apportion the cost of inspecting and maintaining agricultural dams in a manner that takes into account other shared values and the level of development downstream from the dams.”
Richmond says it’s a big burden to put on a rancher who has maintained these structures for 15 to 20 years and, now, has to hire a professional engineer to inspect them, rather than have a dam inspector make an independent decision.
Then, if repairs were needed, they have a hard time finding people who will do the work because they would have to sign off on it.
Richmond says the resolution was passed and will now be moved forward to the provincial government.