Editors Note: These were sent and received by the Yellowpoint Ecological Society ( YES).
The Honourable George Heyman January 25, 2018
Ministry of Environment
PO Box 9047 Stn Prov Govt
Rm 112, Parliament Buildings
V8W9E2Re: Water Sustainability Act and protection of BC watersheds
Having spent most of 2017 working with a group of residents, to mitigate damages to our
watershed from residential land development, I am writing to ask your assistance.
Meetings, a presentation and communications with the Regional District of Nanaimo area
Director and Planning staff have been fruitless, revealing they have no mandate for protecting
watersheds connected to properties under development, and no interest in upholding the spirit
of Official Community Plans. Communications with Cowichan Valley Regional District staff have
revealed, they too have no mandate to protect the watershed. We also notified FLNRO and BC
Parks because the Yellow Point Bog Ecological Reserve and Yellow Point Park, represent
almost 500 acres, of the YP watershed but even these contacts were unable to provide any
Yellow Point residents are familiar with water rationing because our well water is supplied by
one of the most severely water stressed aquifers in the province, the Yellow Point aquifer.
Our aquifer is highly dependent on seasonal rainfall and the existence of traditional
watersheds. Recent years of climate change extended droughts, and land development have
depleted our precious water resources further and threaten future water security. There is an
urgency to prevent further water scarcity.
I understand the BC Water Sustainability Act was passed last year but has yet to offer a
regulatory system. When it comes to implementing regulations for the WSA, I think providing a
system to protect the integrity of watersheds should take precedence, for downstream well
users, wetlands, ecosystems, and forest lands? This could be accomplished by making water
the number one priority by which all land use decisions are made in future.
And, if this does in fact come to fruition, I’m requesting that MoE ensure BC rural residents an
inclusive position in the process of designing the future regulatory system. We absolutely
require a regulatory land use decision making process that includes residents, who possess a
greater understanding of their local watershed environments than other paid staff.
Can you offer us any suggestions or assistance with our current watershed protection issue,
while we are awaiting water legislation to take effect?
4089 Yellow Point Rd.
cc: Premier John Horgan
Doug Routley, MLA_______________________________
From: "Minister, ENV ENV:EX"
Subject: RE: Letter to The Honourable George Heyman
Date: May 9, 2018 at 2:46:21 PM PDT
Cc: "Hadway, Sharon L FLNR:EX" , "Lapcevic, Pat FLNR:EX"
May 9, 2018
Dear Ms. Hunt:
Thank you for your letter of January 25, 2018, regarding water issues in the Yellow Point area of Vancouver Island. I understand that you and other area residents are concerned about the recent sale and road construction on neighbouring private land and the potential impact on environmental values including water supply. I apologize for the delay in responding.
In your letter you reference the Water Sustainability Act (WSA) which was brought into force in February of 2016. Under the WSA and the associated Water Sustainability Regulation, proposed changes in and around a stream (including a pond, river, creek, spring and wetland) as described in Section 11 of the WSA, generally require an authorization. However, certain lower risk changes in and about a stream—including most minor culvert installations for road crossings—typically proceed without an authorization, provided the proposed works comply with Part 3 of the Water Sustainability Regulation. The Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development (FLNRORD) is the agency responsible for reviewing and approving these authorizations. Further information about instream works and the notification process can be found online.
Notification of proposed instream works must be submitted to FrontCounter BC 45 days prior to the commencement of work. This allows for regional Habitat Officers to review and comment on the proposed works, and to issue specific terms and conditions if deemed necessary. Note that if a person makes changes in and about a stream without lawful authority, this is considered an offence under Section 106(2)(b)(ii) of the WSA, and could be pursuant to an investigation by FLNRORD Natural Resource Officers.
Further to the above process, the WSA includes measures to protect stream health through Section 46 (prohibition on introducing foreign matter into stream). Suspected offences under this legislation are encouraged to be reported to our Compliance and Enforcement staff through the Reporting of Natural Resource Violations site.https://www.for.gov.bc.ca/hen/nrv/
Protecting riparian areas is also a provincial priority and good quality streamside habitat is essential for ensuring healthy fish populations. The Riparian Areas Regulation (RAR) under the Riparian Areas Protection Act (https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/environment/plants-animals-ecosystems/fish/riparian-areas-regulation)
calls on local governments to protect riparian areas during residential, commercial, and industrial development by ensuring that a Qualified Environmental Professional (QEP) conducts a science-based assessment of proposed activities. Proposed residential, commercial or industrial activity within 30 metres of a watercourse typically requires a riparian assessment completed by a Qualified Environmental Professional. Development may be restricted if it has the potential to damage vegetation and/or interfere with the ability of the riparian area to provide fish habitat. More information on the Riparian Areas Regulation can be found here.
In your letter, you highlight the importance of protecting aquifers. I encourage you to monitor changes in groundwater level in your well. Groundwater levels, particularly in fractured rock aquifers such as the Yellowpoint Aquifer are influenced by a number of factors such as groundwater extraction, recharge and the properties of the aquifer. Groundwater levels are key to understanding the health of an aquifer over the long-term and ensuring current and future water use is sustainable. For more information please visit the Province’s groundwater protection program.https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/environment/air-land-water/water/groundwater-wells
Work on implementing additional regulations under the WSA also continues. The current focus of government is bringing non-domestic groundwater users (for example, commercial, industrial, irrigation) into the regulatory system through licensing. In addition, we are initiating work on regulations associated with water objectives, measuring and reporting water use, and are exploring opportunities to test some of the planning tools under the WSA. These may have broader application provincially in the future. Proposed WSA related regulations are routinely shared with the public for comment and feedback. For more information on the development of WSA regulations and WSA related intentions papers on proposed regulations, please visit the Water Sustainability Act Blog.https://engage.gov.bc.ca/watersustainabilityact/
Thank you again for writing.
Sharon Hadway and Pat Lapcevic, West Coast Region Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development