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Groundwater Legislation

Which legislations affect groundwater in BC?

Management and regulation of drinking water and drinking water sources is complex.  Within the provincial government alone, responsibility for drinking water is currently shared between at least 10 ministries.  Some of the existing provisions for groundwater protection, though limited, include:

  • BC Environmental Assessment Act - requires an environmental impact assessment for any groundwater withdrawals greater than 75 litres per second and prohibits bulk water exports across BC borders.
  • BC Waste Management Act - regulates the discharge of deleterious substances that may impact the groundwater.
  • BC Health Act - requires that septic systems and other potential sources of contamination are located at least 30 m away from a drinking water well or watercourse, and that landowners believed to have caused a health hazard cease activities causing the hazard.
  • BC Water Act - allows for issuance of water licenses for use of spring sources.  Does not currently allow for licensing of wells.
  • BC Drinking Water Protection Act - contains provisions for preventing contamination and identifying potential risks and appropriate water-quality improvements. 

(source: "A Resident's Guide to Groundwater", 2002, The Corporation of the Township of Langley, p. 13)