Groundwater project idea needs funding

Groundwater use should be licensed and a pilot licensing program should be started in the Okanagan, according to the Okanagan Basin Water Board.

At present, there are no mandatory records kept of wells, except large drilling projects where the flow is more than 75 litres per second. Yet such use of groundwater can impact surface water sources, which are licensed.

The proposal for a licensing pilot project will be put to the provincial government, on the recommendation of the Okanagan Water Stewardship Council.

The preamble to the motion notes that a thorough understanding of groundwater systems is needed for sound water management planning, yet information is limited because there is no licensing system.

The only concern of board members in approving the motion was that the province might take it to mean the board welcomes a downloading of that function to the local government level.

However, director Tom Siddon said, “There’s no implication we will pay.”

The motion encourages the government to license groundwater withdrawals, beginning with a pilot program in the Okanagan Basin.

The board will discuss the scope and contents of the pilot program with the province, and the implementation and funding of such a program.

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