Victoria has finally unveiled proposed amendments to the province’s hopelessly antiquated Water Act.
Existing legislation, more than a century old, was crafted to regulate surface water use to benefit farmers, miners and tiny clumps of early settlers.
With today’s larger population and elevated industrial demands, it is unacceptable that B.C. remains the lone province with no legal protection of groundwater and aquifers.
In presenting a 100-page document last week, Environment Minister Mary Polak admitted as much about one of the province’s most-valuable yet often-undervalued resources.
Groundwater can be used without government approval or fees, Polak added, hinting at perhaps the strongest motivation for cash-poor Victoria.
The government expects to collect $5 million annually, mostly from industrial users. Domestic wells would be excluded.
A Water Sustainability Act would harmonize groundwater and surface water regulation as well as raise protection of surface water. Conservation would be encouraged.
This comes at a crossroads in Comox Valley water management.
Some jurisdictions use meters, while some do not. Metered rural residents are upset because some of us in municipalities pay less than they will.
That will be true as long as we have so many local governments, they can’t agree on a unified position and some refuse to install water meters.
Meters are the only way to accurately measure how much water is used by households and companies.
Without them, those who use less water will subsidize large users. In communities with a flat rate, many of us subsidize large users and water wasters. Without meters, leaks are undetected.
Those who say we live in a rainforest are blissfully and/or willfully ignorant to the fact that the system can deliver only so much water.
Instead of promoting conservation, communities without meters encourage waste.