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Sustainable groundwater regulation for agriculture in B.C.

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As the effects of climate change and population growth are felt in B.C.’s agricultural regions, regional groundwater resources are being depleted. As a result, the current lack of provincial groundwater withdrawal regulation can threaten regional economic well-being and ecosystem viability. This study develops and evaluates policy alternatives to regulate agricultural groundwater use in B.C. The water resource governance policies of three jurisdictions and B.C. stakeholder views are examined to guide the formulation of relevant policy alternatives. My policy recommendations include the establishment of groundwater regulations in pilot “high priority” areas where: representative regional Watershed Agencies develop water allocation plans based on studies of groundwater demand and hydro-geological characteristics, groundwater withdrawals are licensed, agricultural groundwater use is monitored and reported, priority use during droughts is given to environmental and domestic needs, and water rights are bought back by the province to reduce users’ rights for environmental health.
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