Water Act changes could place BC resource on market: Maxey
By Timothy Schafer, The Nelson Daily
Water as a commodity may be the result of the moves the Province is making as they finished the second round of the Water Act modernization public consultation period, says one regional district alternate director.
Nelle Maxey of Regional District of Central Kootenay Area H said the recent governmental shuffle of the former Water Stewardship branch from the Ministry of Environment to the new Natural Resources Operation (NRO) branch isn’t good news.
She said it now houses water under the same roof as minerals and forests, both commodities.
“When water is put under the same ministry as resource extraction, how can you have our water protected and not sold off?” she said recently.
Coupled with the Province’s pursuit of a policy proposal on a new Water Sustainability Act in December, the proposed new act will replace the existing century-old Water Act and it could hinder many rural water users, Maxey said.
Under the new act the government will no longer issue domestic water licences in many parts of BC, Maxey pointed out. Instead, they would offer a permitted use with no licence, meaning no one has the right to protect their water, she explained.
That act will change the present system of domestic water licences — something that has been issued on land title in perpetuity — to be replaced by time-limited licences.
People were asked to become part of the dialogue on the Water Sustainability Act. A Living Water Smart blog (http://blog.gov.bc.ca/livingwatersmart/) was the focus of the last phase of public consultation on the proposed act.
Modernizing the Water Act is part of Living Water Smart: B.C.’s Water Plan, the B.C. government’s plan on the resource.
To view the Policy Proposal on British Columbia’s New Water Sustainability Act, please visit: http://www.livingwatersmart.ca/water-act/docs/wam_wsa-policy-proposal.pdf
There now have been two rounds of Water Act modernization public consultation so far.