The province updated the intentions paper for its proposed livestock watering policy at the end of July.
“We were surprised to see an updated intentions paper released, quite frankly,” says Princeton area rancher Linda Allison, noting the extensive consultations BC Cattlemen’s Association have had with the province over the last 10 years. “We voiced many concerns over this proposed regulation. Some have been addressed; some not.”
The province is proposing to classify and regulate cattle watering into three tiers based on the location and number of cattle accessing water.
On private land, you may water up to 20 cattle as a Tier 1 user without registration. Between 20 and 200 animals require the water use to be registered as Tier 2.
Watering up to 200 animals on Crown range requires a Tier 2 registration; more than 200 requires a Tier 3 authorization. Both Tier 2 and Tier 3 users will pay water rental fees, and be regulated on the basis of their priority date of use during times of scarcity.
Watering more than 200 animals requires an application for authorization as a Tier 3 user. Tier 3 applications must include approval from Indigenous governments and could consider environmental flow needs.
The additional level of water registration could add to the frustrations farmers have experienced since the Water Sustainability Act took effect in 2016.
“We are also still having concerns over the groundwater licensing [issue],” says Allison, chair of the water subcommittee of the BC Cattlemen’s Association. “Each region of BC is seeming to place their own interpretation on approval of existing-use groundwater.”