An enforcement operation to protect the Kiskatinaw River watershed near Dawson Creek, B.C. has reviewed 49 water storage structures, including dugouts and dams.
The objective is to ensure that the diversion of water and the construction of dams in the Kiskatinaw River watershed, which the city’s residents rely on as a source of drinking water, comply with the Water Sustainability Act.
Forty-two inspections were completed to verify compliance with natural resource legislation. Some of the inspections included more than one dugout or other water structure. One warning ticket has been issued related to the diversion, storage, or use of water. Four violation tickets have also been issued related to unauthorized changes made in or around a waterway, with total fines amounting to $920.
Eight investigations resulting from this work are still underway. An inspection can lead to a formal investigation if a natural resource officer believes that an offence has been committed under the Water Sustainability Act.
Most of the remaining open investigations are expected to be completed in the spring of 2019 and may result in additional enforcement actions or penalties. Monetary penalties for offences under the Water Sustainability Act can run as high as $1 million for each offence and as much as $1 million for each day the offence continues.
If a person is convicted of an offence under the Water Sustainability Act, the court may also impose a fine equal to the court’s estimation of the monetary benefit received by that person as a result of committing the offence.
A key goal of this enforcement operation was to educate individuals about water storage, water use, and the need to obtain authorization from the government before diverting streams or groundwater. Most individuals who spoke with the natural resource officers were cooperative and appreciated the officers’ efforts to help manage water resources in the area.