B.C. seeks input on livestock water use rules

The British Columbia government is seeking public comments on its livestock water regulations by Feb. 16.

The proposed regulations within the province’s Water Sustainability Act, which was passed in 2016, are meant to clarify livestock water use and development on crown range and private land. In addition, the proposal allows for livestock watering use on leased reserve lands, treaty land or title lands where the First Nation consents to the grazing activity on those lands.

Earlier regulations addressed water pricing, dam safety and ground water protection and licensing.

“There was really no definite protections listed for livestock water, so we were championing a separate regulation come forward and provide those protections,” said Elaine Stovin of the B.C. Cattlemen’s Association.

The proposal is able to address some specific questions about livestock water uses and development.

A dugout is a typical water development, and the new regulation says no license is needed if it is fed by snow melt of rainfall.

Any existing dugout with a berm less than two metres high and volume less than 2,500 cubic metres is allowed without a license.

However, in the future regulators may look at the source of the water supply, such as a diversion from a creek or ground water seepage, to determine whether a license is needed.

Drought proofing is not mentioned in the current proposal.

“We have been advocating that livestock would still have access to that water,” Stovin said.

“It is an animal welfare concern. They really need the water. Two, they don’t remove a lot of volume from the river.”

Conservation of water is included in the new law.

“The Water Sustainability Act does have within it parameters to allow for minimum flows and conservation flows,” she said.

“What the livestock regulation is intended to do is to provide water security for livestock to recognize all the ways they use water, and it removes barriers for people putting in off-stream waterers because we know they are beneficial for producers and the environment,” she said.

A future regulation for area-based water management is expected to deal with regions facing chronic low supplies. The plan is to develop local consensus on how to deal with shortages or agriculture water reserves.

The province has extended the ground water licence application fee waiver period from Dec. 31, 2017, to March 1, 2019, and aligns with the extended date of March 1, 2019 for existing ground water users to apply for a licence. Licensing gives ground water users greater security by establishing a protected water right.

In rural areas, domestic water that depends on a ground water source does not require a licence. A multi-service well for household use and a small number of animals still comes under the domestic use umbrella, and no license is required.

“If you are watering over 10 animals, then you need to look at a livestock purpose,” she said.

The BCCA has been working with ranchers to apply and receive ground water licenses, but approvals are taking longer than expected.

The intentions paper is available online at engage.gov.bc.ca/app/uploads/sites/71/2018/01/Livestock_Watering_Regs_intentions_paper.pdf.

Contact barbara.duckworth@producer.com

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Comments

  • Monkeeworks

    What is really behind the BC- NDP and livestock watering? As the following two points tell it all. They intend to do nothing except look for a way to license stock watering and get a yearly fee established for a water license, if it at the moment is not applied.
    Same as water licenses on private domestic water use. The government does nothing, they put nothing, effort or cash, into any private system, they do not monitor water use, they charge to test your water and they over sell what water is available for use. Then they charge a yearly license fee for using water. If any person uses any water for domestic purposes you have to have a water license. Any house that uses ground water must have a license, If you irrigate you must have a license, if you water your garden you must have a license, if you water your lawn you must have a license. BC (short for ‘Bring Cash’) is so over governed and so over taxed the public are drowning. (water used for drowning purposes will be charged to the survivor)

    1.The province has extended the ground water licence application fee waiver…….means they will be charging. They just haven’t figured how much they can charge yet. That means a fee for the application (you lose the fee for the application) and a yearly water license fee. Average yearly private residential license fee is around $150.00 a year, another $150.00 if you want to water a garden and the amount of water used on the garden is deducted from your allowable daily water allowance for your home.
    2. in the future regulators may look at the source of the water supply, such as a diversion from a creek or ground water seepage, to determine whether a license is needed……no surprise that a license will be needed.
    These charges are all for water, in my area, that are flowing into a river heading straight for the U.S.

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