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A decision-making framework for groundwater licensing options in British Columbia

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British Columbia is one of the few jurisdictions in North America without regulatory mechanisms in place to monitor or license groundwater resources, leaving the resource vulnerable to depletion of quantity and quality. When BC’s water plan – Living Water Smart – was released in 2009, it included a commitment to regulate “large groundwater withdrawals in priority areas.” This study investigates cases from other jurisdictions to identify operational definitions for “priority areas” and “large withdrawals” used to regulate and protect groundwater stocks. I identify key criteria and illustrate potential consequences of groundwater allocation policy decisions from case studies and use this information to create a decision-making framework for groundwater licensing in BC. The framework highlights lessons learned from other jurisdictions to help inform the decision-making process for groundwater policy in BC and suggests how these lessons can be applied to the BC context.
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