RDN revises policy on groundwater assessments

The Regional District of Nanaimo has cleared any murky issues regarding the requirements for groundwater assessments for rezoning of unserviced lands.

The RDN has updated its currently policy, in effect since 2011, which had created confusion among some applicants. There has been direction from the provincial government under the Water Sustainability Act for the RDN to provide guidance on groundwater assessments.

Unserviced lands in the regional district are primarily dependent on groundwater as the main source of water. Conditions vary across the region and site-specific assessments are required to determine if water needs for proposed parcels or uses can be met. It also aims to reduce any impact it might cause on existing groundwater users, hydraulically connected streams and longterm sustainability of the aquifer.

The RDN board approved the revised policy at its regular board meeting on April 23, as it will improve clarity of the groundwater requirements for rezoning applications on un-serviced land and incorporate new provincial guidance and requirements under the Water Sustainability Act.

Manager of current planning, Paul Thompson, indicated in his report to the board that under the new policy, groundwater assessment must be performed by a qualified professional with competency in hydrogeology.

Generally, Thompson pointed out, a desktop assessment reviewing all available relevant information is sufficient, unless the professional deems a pumping test is needed in order to satisfactorily provide an opinion on minimum year-round water supply and anticipated impacts or lack thereof.

The RDN’s Drinking Water and Watershed Protection (DWWP) program will also help in expediting the process as it has increased background data available to inform desktop reviews.

Michael.Briones@pqbnews.com

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