The Government of British Columbia has released an intention document that outlines potential policies to improve water management and the protection of the environment by developing livestock watering regulations under the province’s Water Sustainability Act.

An intentions paper, the document proposes new regulations that would improve livestock watering practices on range land where there is low-density livestock grazing, either on Crown land or private range lands.

The rationale for the proposed new policies is that public expectations regarding water quality and aquatic ecosystems reflect a need for better management of livestock watering practices. In addition to voluntary environmental farm planning, the document states that public expectations “encouraged livestock producers to develop managed direct access sites or to construct and use offstream watering systems for livestock watering.”

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The proposed regulations would allow the diversion of water from a stream or aquifer for livestock watering. It would also allow for construction of livestock-watering works, subject to requirements that would minimize adverse effects on aquatic ecosystems.

Specific provisions are such that “under the proposed new regulations extensive use areas, such as grazing areas, seasonal feeding areas, and temporary holding areas, will be as defined and described in the [Agricultural Waste Control Regulation].” While the AWCR document is under revision, it does allow livestock access to watercourses where agricultural waste does not cause pollution.

The province is seeking input from the public, First Nations, and industry stakeholders. Feedback on the proposed policies will inform final recommendations to government in spring 2018. Comments on the intentions paper will be accepted until February 16th, 2018.

Comments and feedback can be submitted through the Water Sustainability Act blog. Questions about the proposed policies are welcomed at livingwatersmart@gov.bc.ca.

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