New B.C. Water Sustainability Act changes regulation requirements for freshwater storage structures

The regulations for freshwater dams constructed in B.C. by the oil and gas industry changed in 2016 as a result of the B.C. government’s new Water Sustainability Act, which took effect at the end of February last year.

In 2015, in advance of the new regulations taking effect, Progress Energy proactively worked with regulators and external experts to conduct a thorough review of its freshwater storage structure inventory to identify which ones needed to be reclassified as dams under the new Act and which of those would require long-term licenses.

The work undertaken for the review:

  • Reinforced that all 59 of the company’s water structures were structurally sound with the exception of one, which was in need of repair. Upon receiving an order from the B.C. Oil and Gas Commission, and using an abundance of caution, the company immediately dewatered that particular structure.
  • Identified that 29 of the company’s water structures needed to be reclassified as dams under the Water Sustainability Act and must meet the requirements specified in the Dam Safety Regulation (DSR).
  • Two of the company’s DSR-regulated dams had berm heights over the 15-metre threshold (berm height measured to the highest side) for which an Environmental Assessment Office review is required. Progress Energy disclosed these two large structures to the regulator, and requested exemptions.

The regulatory paperwork review is underway.

The company values its relationships with all regulators, communities and stakeholders, and will continue to work collaboratively with them to ensure full compliance with all applicable requirements.

Photo description: Progress Energy’s largest dam in NE BC with berm height of 22.89m, Average height of all 29 dams is 5.33m.