Okanagan domestic use water well sign-up frustration mounts

Vernon Morning Star – May 7, 2018

Okanagan Valley residents reliant on wells for their water could potentially lose their access rights if they don’t register their use with the provincial government.

While frustration over well approval delays are causing some people to opt out of participating in the registration program until the bureaucracy hiccups get ironed out, that attitude could present dire consequences.

“From a legal perspective, all they have to do is register and the protection of their priority use water rights are preserved. If they do not, they lose that status and could find themselves losing those water drilling rights in the face of future groundwater license applications in their area,” said Greg Tyson, a water policy analyst with the B.C. Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development.

The issue was brought up at last week’s Okanagan Basin Water Board meeting, when director Rick Fairbairn, representing the North Okanagan Regional District, voiced concerns he has heard from water rights holders, telling him the registration process is frustrating and a miserable failure for both water well drillers and their clients to negotiate.

“I am told 19,000 well registrations have been submitted and only about 2,000 have been actually licensed,” Fairbairn said.

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