• Laurentius (Larry) Koller v. Assistant Water Manager

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    Decision Date: May 2, 2022

    Panel: Shannon Bentley

    Keywords: Water Sustainability Act – ss. 14(1)(f), 15(1); licence; groundwater; irrigation; environmental flow needs; hydraulically connected stream

    Larry Koller appealed a clause in a water licence issued to him by an Assistant Water Manager (the “Manager”) in the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development. The licence authorized Mr. Koller to divert groundwater from an existing well to irrigate his hay crop from May 1 to July 15 annually. He asked the Board to amend the licence so he could irrigate his crop for an additional two months. He submitted that the irrigation period should be extended so he could prepare the crop for winter, whereas the Manager submitted that there was insufficient water available in those months.

    Based on the evidence, the Board found that there is likely a hydraulic connection between the aquifer which Mr. Koller’s well draws from, and a lake and stream near the well. The evidence also indicated that in August and September, there was no surplus water available in the stream, beyond its environmental flow needs. July 15, the date when irrigation must cease under the licence, generally aligned with water availability in that stream. Given that mid-month is when water availability may shift, it was logical that water withdrawal from the aquifer should cease then.

    The Board also noted that Mr. Koller held two other water licences, including one that allowed him to use water from another stream for irrigation purposes from April 1 to September 30. Therefore, he had access to at least some water to irrigate his crop in August and September. Furthermore, his total licensed water supply for irrigation actually exceeded his irrigation needs. The Board recommended that if the time frame for his licensed water use did not align exactly with his irrigation needs, he could consider storing water in the earlier part of the irrigation season for use later in the season.

    Accordingly, the appeal was dismissed.