Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy
VICTORIA – The Government of British Columbia intends to improve water management and the protection of the environment by developing livestock watering regulations under the Water Sustainability Act.
An intentions paper, posted today, 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 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.
Why is government considering new livestock watering regulations?
Historically, water supply for livestock on both Crown and private range lands included direct consumption from streams and other water sources on the land, as well as from off – stream watering systems. An authorization (licence or use approval) has always been required for the diversion and use of water from a stream. The coming into force of the Water Sustainability Act ( WSA ) in February 2016 created a new requirement for licensing of non – domestic groundwater use, including groundwater use for livestock watering. Public expectations for protection of water quality and aquatic ecosystems along with voluntary environmental farm planning have encouraged livestock producers to develop managed direct access sites or to construct and use off – stream watering systems for livestock watering.
The B.C. livestock industry has identified a need for secure access to water to maintain healthy livestock. The 2009 Ranching Task Force identified water use by livestock on range lands as the highest priority for regulatory improvement. The proposed livestock watering regulations would facilitate the development of these types of improvements to livestock watering practices on Crown and private range lands and would benefit livestock, the agriculture sector, other water users and the aquatic ecosystem of the stream .
The Province seeks 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 Feb. 16, 2018.
* A beef cow/calf pair requires about 45 litres of water daily.
* Summer water needs of livestock grazing on Interior range land are less than 1% of average summer precipitation.
* There are about 21 million hectares of Crown range land and 5 million hectares of private range land in B.C.
* Over 95% of livestock grazing on range lands in B.C. are cattle. Other grazing livestock include sheep, goats and horses.
* In 2015, there were about 200,000 head of cattle in B.C., on more than 4,000 ranches.
The intentions paper is available online: https://engage.gov.bc.ca/app/uploads/sites/71/2018/01/Livestock_Watering_Regs_intentions_paper.pdf