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British Columbia replaces its 105-year-old water legislation

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The Water Sustainability Act, which will replace B.C.’s century-old Water Act, has been passed in the B.C. Legislature.

B.C. Environment Minister Mary Polak described it as a “historic achievement for British Columbia.”

Polak said that when the Water Act was passed 105 years ago, “Those were different times with different demands on our water resources. B.C.’s entire population was only 350,000 … today our provincial population is 4.6 million.”

Oliver Brandes, co-director of the University of Victoria’s POLIS Project, said the passage of the Water Sustainability Act is a much needed step in catching up.

Several key details – such as the tricky issue of how much to charge for water use – remain to be hammered out by legislators.

“We can’t relax now,” said Bourdes. “We have to stay vigilant because there’s lots of work ahead. But this is a milestone worth celebrating.”

The regulation of groundwater will be a top priority under the new legislation,  which will include the licensing and charging for extraction. Exact details and prices still have to be determined.

Polak said new water fees will be established before the Act takes effect in the spring of 2015.

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