Water Sustainability Act Change Approval and Notification

The Water Sustainability Act (WSA) was brought into effect on February 29, 2016, as an update to the Provincial Water Act, to ensure a sustainable supply of fresh, clean water that meets the needs of B.C. residents is available today and in the future.

Under Section 11 of the WSA, a Change Approval is required if an applicant wishes to request permission to eliminate (e.g., closure/infill), modify, or significantly re-locate an existing waterbody. All Change Approval works are subject to pre-determined fisheries/stream compensation and/or enhancement works to off-set proposed changes/modifications to the existing waterbody. Terms and conditions of the WSA may relate to the time of year in which work is scheduled to occur, and/or to other measures that protect the aquatic ecosystem, the hydrologic integrity of the stream channel, and the rights of water users and landowners downstream.

Under Part 3 of the Water Sustainability Regulation (WSR), a Notification of Authorized Changes (i.e., Notification) is required if an applicant wishes to complete instream activities that typically have minimal impact on the environment and third parties (e.g., culvert/headwall installations, bridge crossings, maintenance/repair works, etc.). Approved works must comply with the requirements outlined in the WSR, and any additional conditions set forth by the reviewing habitat officer.

PLG’s QEPs are experienced in preparing and submitting both types of WSA applications to FrontCounter BC, where each application is reviewed by a Habitat Officer and/or Water Manager.

Change Approval application review by the Province typically takes between 6 months to 1 year to be approved, during which time additional information, plans, and subconsultant work may be required at the request of the Province before they can complete their review. Change Approval applications are often conditional to a certain season when proposed work may occur (e.g., instream work windows), and are subject to all terms and conditions outlined by the Province in the approval letter.

Under the same legislation, a WSA Notification may be submitted for projects where changes to an existing waterbody are considered low risk changes with minimal impact to the environment. Our QEPs will be able to assist you to determine if your proposed work falls under a WSA Notification and whether an application of this nature will be required. Notification applications are submitted online by a QEP to FrontCounter BC a minimum of 45 days ahead of proposed work (submitting more than 45 days ahead of time is recommended to allow for Provincial review). A response (typically via email correspondence) must be received from an approving officer before work may proceed; however, if no response from the Ministry is received within 45 days of FrontCounter BC receiving the Notification application then proposed work may proceed, providing it meets the terms and conditions outlined in Part 3 of the Water Sustainability Regulation, and comply with conditions and best practices as determined by a habitat officer in response to a Notification for work.

Talk to us

Talk to our environmental professionals. Please contact Kyla,a QEP with experience in watercourse assessments, Riparian Area Protection Regulation (RAPR) assessments, bird nest surveys, fish and wildlife salvages, environmental monitoring, and the preparation of Ecosystem Development Plans (EDP), Construction Environmental Management Plans (CEMP), and Invasive Species Management Plans (ISMP).