The Province is making it simpler for rural fire departments to divert, use and store water for non-emergency firefighting activities, Minister of State for Rural Economic Development Donna Barnett announced today.
Changes to the Water Sustainability Act regulations mean that fire departments no longer need to apply for special permits – called “authorizations” – to set up a dry hydrant, an unpressurized, permanent pipe connected to a stream, lake or pond. Dry hydrants are commonly used in rural areas where firefighters do not have access to a municipal water system.
Dry hydrants are sometimes located in areas with fish and wildlife habitat, or in places vulnerable to erosion and other environmental impacts. Authorizations, which came with a one-time application fee and an annual rental fee, were a way of minimizing potential environmental impacts.
Now, the Province is waiving the authorization requirement and fees, and maintaining environmental oversight by requiring firefighters to file a notice of intent 45 days prior to installing a dry hydrant. This notice gives habitat officers and engineers time to review the site and provide directions to ensure ecosystems are protected.
Previously, fire departments needed an authorization to divert, use or store water for non-emergency activities, including training firefighters and testing and maintaining firefighting equipment. In the event of an actual fire, firefighters have more discretionary authority and do not need to file a notice or apply for any permits.
Donna Barnett, Minister of State for Rural Economic Development –
“We appreciate the valuable public-safety work done by our firefighters – many of whom are volunteers, and want to ensure that our regulatory system does not hinder the essential work of fire departments. These changes will ensure that firefighters have access to the water they need without compromising the integrity of critical fish and wildlife habitats.”
- The Water Sustainability Act was brought into force in 2016, to ensure a sustainable supply of fresh, clean water that meets the needs of B.C. residents today and in the future.
- The act is the principal law for managing the diversion and use of water resources, updates B.C.’s strategy for protecting, managing and using water efficiently throughout the province.
- British Columbia is served by almost 400 community-based fire departments that employ about 4,000 career firefighters and thousands of volunteers.
Read more about the Water Sustainability Act: http://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/environment/air-land-water/water/laws-rules/water-sustainability-act