New regulations say Okanagan well water users should register


KELOWNA – New B.C. groundwater regulations have muddied the waters a bit, creating confusion over residential well water use, and the Okanagan Basin Water Board is trying to clear it up. 

In a media release, the water board clarified some information found in the new groundwater regulations and it should help residential well users understand what it means for them.

"Residential well owners do have rights for domestic water use," executive director Anna Warwick Sears says in the release. Residential water users do not have to get licenses, but Warwick Sears stresses that people with a well should register it to ensure its use is known and protected.

Domestic uses of water includes drinking, food preparation, cleaning, fire prevention, water for animals kept as pets or household use, and water for small gardens.

According to the release, by registering a well the rights of the residents will be protected if a large volume groundwater licence application goes through in the area.

"If the provincial government staff person reviewing a licence application doesn’t know about your well, they won’t be able to consider your water use when making their decision,” Warwick Sears says.

Well registration helps the province, licencees, utilities and the water board understand how much groundwater is being used and assists in resource management.

"Back when I lived in California in the 1990s, my neighbours and I had wells, and then a company applied for a big production well in our area and there was no protection for us. So this opportunity for people to register their domestic well is wise. If you want to make sure that water continues to be available, and licensing decision makers are paying attention, it’s prudent to register your well," Warwick Sears says.

— This story's headline was corrected at 3 p.m. on Feb. 20, 2017 to clarify that registration is strongly reccomended, but not required. 

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