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Posted: February 10, 2020

Groundwater management crucial in Upper Columbia Basin

A well owner collecting water level data. Living Lakes Canada photo

Columbia Basin businesses and landowners who use groundwater for non-domestic purposes are reminded they are legally required to apply for a water licence.

This change came into effect in 2016 with the new Water Sustainability Act. Four years later, just 15% of B.C. users have complied, according to a recent article published by the Partnership for Water Sustainability, reported Living Lakes Canada.

Licensing is needed to protect many of the regions in B.C. that have reached a point where water supply is reaching critically low levels and prevent the same water stress from happening elsewhere in the province, state the authors. Domestic groundwater users are exempt from licensing but are encouraged to register their well so it can be added to the provincial database.

“Groundwater helps maintain water levels and water quality in wetlands, streams, rivers and lakes,” said Living Lakes Canada Executive Director and Columbia Valley resident Kat Hartwig. “It’s important to manage this freshwater resource for the health of communities and ecosystems, especially in a changing climate.”

Living Lakes Canada is managing the Columbia Basin Groundwater Monitoring Program, which is working with citizens, local governments and other stakeholders throughout the Basin to collect groundwater data that otherwise would not be collected. This information can then be used by citizens to learn about groundwater and in water management decisions, climate adaptation planning, and conservation planning to ensure sustainable water supplies for human use and to maintain healthy ecosystems.

The program is looking to expand the number of wells it is monitoring and invites interested well owners (domestic and non-domestic) to contact Program Manager Carol Luttmer at [email protected]. Suitable wells for monitoring are typically not actively used to withdraw water.

To better understand the new requirements for groundwater users, to apply for a licence or to register your well, visit the BC Government website.

Photo submitted by Living Lakes Canada


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