UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Groundwater management in British Columbia Nicholls, Nadine Frances


Groundwater is a major source of potable water in British Columbia and is used extensively in many areas of the province. However, despite the importance of the resource, groundwater development and use are subject to few constraints. Reliance on common law rights has contributed to the development of problems of overuse and contamination of the resource in some parts of British Columbia. The objectives of the thesis are to provide an overview study of groundwater and to develop a set of recommendations for improving the management of groundwater in British Columbia. Most of the information used in the thesis is from primary and secondary written material in the fields of law, economics, hydrogeology, and natural resources management. Some primary written and verbal material was obtained from the British Columbia Ministry of Environment staff. Several groundwater management and regulation schemes which have been recommended in the literature or adopted in other regions of western North America are reviewed and then assessed according to the criteria of feasibility, equity, effectiveness, and economic efficiency. The evaluation of these alternatives forms the basis of the recommendations for management of British Columbia's groundwater. The thesis recommends that, in areas where groundwater problems have developed or are likely to occur, clearly defined groundwater rights be established by the Comptroller of Water Rights. The Comptroller would conduct hearings into groundwater supply and demand, decide upon a collective withdrawal rate for each area, and then assign rights to individual users to pump water at specified rates. The thesis further recommends that, once the allocation of rights has been made, the rights would be marketable.

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