Cowichan farmer angry must pay for his well water under new provincial regulations

Leo Kasbergen said he’s “flabbergasted” that he will soon be expected to register and pay fees for a groundwater well on his property

Correction: This story has been modified to clarify that the initial groundwater well registration and licensing fee for non-domestic groundwater use will be between $250 and $1,000 per well and that amount is a one-time fee. There will also be a separate annual fee.

 

Leo Kasbergen said he’s “flabbergasted” that he will soon be expected to register and pay fees for a groundwater well on his property that he has used for years.

Kasbergen has been running a small sheep-farming enterprise just south of Duncan in the Cowichan Valley Regional District for more than a decade.

He said he spent $15,000 many years ago to dig a well and a pumping system on his property and doesn’t understand why he will soon be expected to pay fees to use his own well.

But Kasbergen said a recent meeting in his community that was held by the province to explain the policies that are coming into force with B.C.’s new Water Sustainability Act was an eye-opener.

Under the Act, anyone who diverts and use groundwater for non-domestic purposes must obtain a water licence and begin paying water fees.

Kasbergen said the audience at the meeting was told that the cost of registering and licensing for non-domestic groundwater use in the province will be anywhere between $250 to $1,000 per well, plus an annual fee for the use of the water.

“If they want to preserve groundwater, they should stop the Nestle corporation from pumping five-million litres of water out of the ground every day at the price of $2.70 for every one million litres,” he said.

“It’s obvious that all this is about is creating more bureaucracy and government jobs and sucking more money out of taxpayers.”

The WSA was developed to try and ensure a sustainable supply of fresh, clean water that meets the needs of B.C. residents into the future, and is now the principle law for managing the diversion and use of water resources.

On top of the registration and licensing fees, agricultural users like Kasbergen will also be required to pay a minimum of $50 annually as a water-use fee.

Larger users, like industrial farms, will pay more depending on the amount of groundwater they use in their operations.

The province has established a three-year transition period, until March 1, 2019, to bring existing groundwater users into the new licensing system.

As the WSA was being devised, Environment Minister Mary Polak said the Act will position B.C. as a leader in water stewardship.

“The new WSA delivers on government’s commitments to modernize B.C.’s water laws, regulate groundwater use and strengthen provincial water management in light of growing demands for water and climate change,” she said at the time.

“Water is our most precious resource and the WSA will ensure that our supply of clean and fresh water is sustainable to meet our needs today and for generations to come.”

There are approximately 20,000 existing non-domestic groundwater users in the province that will come under the new water-licensing regime.

Jon Lefebure, chairman of the CVRD, said that with the impacts of climate change and continued development on groundwater, it’s understandable that the province would develop legislation to deal with its sustainability.

“It’s widely recognized that there isn’t an infinite amount of groundwater, and we must be more careful with the resources that are there,” he said.

“Anyone who thinks that we can have unlimited use of groundwater with no precautions is not up to date with the growing concerns around this issue.”

Lefebure said he expects the licensing and user fees under the WSA will be used for water monitoring and related expenses.

“It would be catastrophic if people’s wells begin to go dry, so everyone has an interest in this,” he said.

Just Posted

Sierra Acton, regional district director for Shawnigan Lake. (file photo)
New parkland in Shawnigan creating connections

Used to created parking for the popular Masons Beach Park

By protesting uninvited in First Nations’ territories, conservationists are acting in a neocolonial or paternalistic manner, says Huu-ay-aht Chief Robert Dennis. Photo by Heather Thomson
A closer look: do Vancouver Island First Nations support the war in the woods?

First Nations/environmentalist old growth alliance uneasy, if it exists at all

Chris Wilkinson
Chris Wilkinson column: This could be the worst thing done to you during the pandemic

As a result, all of us will contend with more ‘scarcity’ thinking and mindset.

The Crofton trailer park home where the bodies of two people were found. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Mom still waiting for answers after daughter and her fiance found dead in Crofton

Pair discovered dead in their Crofton home in May identified as Rachel Gardner and Paul Jenkins

FILE – Perry Bellegarde, National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, takes part in an event on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, July 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Indigenous Peoples Day must be a ‘call to action’, says Assembly of First Nations chief

Discovery of children at Kamloops residential school site must lead to change, Perry Bellegarde says

The border crossing into the United States is seen during the COVID-19 pandemic in Lacolle, Que. on February 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
VIDEO: Border quarantine to soon lift for fully vaccinated Canadians

Eligible travellers must still take multiple COVID-19 tests

Chilliwack secondary school’s principal is apologizing after a quote equating graduation with the end of slavery in the U.S. was included in the 2020-2021 yearbook. (Screenshot from submitted SnapChat)
B.C. student’s yearbook quote equates grad to end of slavery; principal cites editing error

Black former student ‘disgusted’ as CSS principal apologizes for what is called an editing error

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross. (Photo by Peter Versteege)
BC Liberal leadership candidate condemns ‘senseless violence’ of Okanagan church fires

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross says reconciliation isn’t about revenge for past tragedies

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A coroner’s inquest will be taking place at the Capitol Theatre in Port Alberni for the next week. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
Teen B.C. mom who died following police custody recalled as ‘friend to many’

Police sent Jocelyn George to hospital after intoxication had gone ‘beyond the realm’ of normal detox

FILE - In this Nov. 29, 2020, file photo, Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Carl Nassib leaves the field after an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons in Atlanta. Nassib on Monday, June 21, 2021, became the first active NFL player to come out as gay. Nassib announced the news on Instagram, saying he was not doing it for the attention but because “I just think that representation and visibility are so important.” (AP Photo/John Bazemore, File)
Nassib becomes first active NFL player to come out as gay

More than a dozen NFL players have come out as gay after their careers were over

Penticton Indian Band Chief Greg Gabriel speaks to the Sacred Hearts Catholic Church burning down early Monday morning, June 21, 2021. (Monique Tamminga Western News)
Penticton band chief condemns suspicious burning of 2 Catholic churches

Both Catholic church fires are deemed suspicious, says RCMP

COVID-19 daily cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day moving average to June 17, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infections drop to 90 on Sunday, 45 Monday

Pandemic spread dwindles as 77% of adults receive vaccine

Emergency vehicles are parked outside of the Wintergreen Apartments on Fourth Avenue. (SUSAN QUINN / Alberni Valley News)
Port Alberni RCMP investigate stabbing on Fourth Avenue

Two men were found with ‘significant’ injuries near Wintergreen Apartments

Most Read