WATCH: The Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development is now sending letters to some groundwater users telling them to get a groundwater license by March 1, 2019 or face a possible fine or loss of water use.
Black Creek hobby farmer Dale Taylor raises goats and rabbits but he says a recent letter he received from the provincial government could put an end to it for him and others in the area.
“To have bold print saying they can cease allowing you to use your own water, come on that’s crazy,” said Taylor.
It’s part of a groundwater licensing program under the BC Water Sustainability Act that began in 2016 but some farmers are now getting the letter saying they need to apply and pay for a license before March 1st in order to keep using their own wells.
Taylor says it doesn’t make sense though because it only applies to those who sell animals, no matter how many animals a farmer might have on the property consuming water.
“So say someone has 15 animals or 20 or 30 animals on their property and if they don’t sell the animals they don’t need a license but if I have five goats on my property and I sell one, I need a license,” he said.
He adds the blanket policy across BC doesn’t make sense because water issues are different in the Okanagan compared to the island.
“We live at the base of Mount Washington in the Comox Valley and don’t have water issues here so it’s a blanket program that doesn’t make sense so at the end of the day I don’t see how it makes sense for anyone here on Vancouver Island,” added Taylor.
But BC’s Director of Water Management and Comptroller of Water Rights Ted White says the program allows everyone to protect their groundwater.
“What the Water Sustainability Act does and groundwater licensing is it helps set out the allocation of that water and ensure that someone doesn’t come beside them and just drill a bigger well and impact their use,” said White.
The application fee is currently being waived but the annual water “rental” fee is $50.
Dale Taylor says he’s worried the $50 a year water rental will continue to increase but Ted White says that can’t happen without extensive consultation.
“I understand that people are worried about any increase in cost in the future and government is also looking at how to ensure that we don’t load undue costs on to users,” said White.
Nonetheless, Taylor says some Hobby farmers in the Comox Valley are already packing it in because of the uncertainty.