Environmental Assessment Act

The Environmental Assessment Act provides a mechanism for reviewing major projects to assess their potential impacts. British Columbia's environmental assessment process is important to ensure that major projects meet the goals of environmental, economic and social sustainability.

The assessment process also ensures that the issues and concerns of the public, First Nations, communities and government agencies are considered.

The Environmental Assessment Office manages the assessment of all major projects proposed in British Columbia. Major projects are assessed for potentially adverse environmental, economic, social, heritage and health effects that may occur during the life cycle of these projects. The process includes:

  • Opportunities for all interested parties to be involved
  • Consultations with First Nations
  • Technical studies to identify and examine potential significant adverse effects
  • Strategies to prevent or reduce adverse effects
  • Development of project requirements and conditions that a company must follow if a project is approved
  • Development of comprehensive reports summarizing input and findings

Visit the Environmental Assessment Office for more information about the environmental assessment process.

Review of Groundwater Projects under the Environmental Assessment Act

Groundwater projects are typically reviewable under the Environmental Assessment Act when a new facility is being developed, an existing facility is being modified, or for projects that are designated under the federal Canadian Environmental Assessment Act.

New facility

The development of a new facility is reviewable if it consists of one or more wells designed to be operated to extract ground water at the rate of 75 litres or more per second, periodically or continuously for one year or more.

Modification to an existing facility

Where an existing facility is designed to extract groundwater at a rate of 75 litres or more per second, modifications to the facility are reviewable if the modifications will increase the design rate of extraction by 35% or by 75 litres per second or more.

Where an existing facility is designed to extract groundwater at a rate of less than 75 litres per second, modifications to the facility are reviewable if the modifications will increase the design rate of extraction by 35% and result in an extraction rate for the facility of 75 litres per second or more.

Federal requirements

Under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012, a federal environmental assessment may be required for designated projects. A designated project includes one or more physical activities that are listed in the federal Regulations Designating Physical Activities (the Project List).  The Project List identifies types of major projects that have the greatest potential for significant adverse environmental effects in areas of federal jurisdiction.

While groundwater projects are not on the Project List, there may be situations where, by virtue of its characteristics or location, the groundwater project may have the potential to cause adverse environmental effects in areas of federal jurisdiction. In such cases, Canada’s Minister of Environment and Climate Change may designate a project for the purpose of requiring an environmental assessment.