Hydrogeological Study Requirement for the City of Vancouver and other Jurisdictions

The City of Vancouver (COV), Planning, Urban Design and Sustainability Department recently issued a Groundwater Management Bulletin, effective July 11, 2018, which pertains to a hydrogeological study requirement. In order to preserve sewer capacity, reduce the risk of combined sewer overflows, and maintain wastewater treatment effectiveness, groundwater flows are prohibited from entering the sewer system on a permanent basis. The hydrogeological study was designed to provide City engineers the information necessary to assess whether a proposed project will meet the following two criteria:

  • No post-construction groundwater discharge is permitted to the City’s sewer infrastructure.
  • If groundwater extraction or diversion is required during the construction phase, it must be proven that there are no significant negative impacts to the environment.

As written, this hydrogeological study requirement is to apply to all developments on private property within the Cambie Corridor; an area centered upon Cambie St., and loosely bounded by Oak St. to the West, Ontario St. to the East, W. 16th Ave to the North and the Fraser River to the South. However, we are seeing preliminary (COV) maps indicating that the hydrogeological study requirement area may be expanded to other parts of the City in the future. Also, other municipalities (including District of North Vancouver and City of Burnaby) are adopting their own hydrogeological study requirements.

Components of a hydrogeological study include:

  • Underlying stratigraphy,
  • Existing or planned monitoring wells,
  • Local groundwater extraction/diversion locations,
  • Expected dewatering flow rates and duration of groundwater extraction (both during construction and post-construction),
  • Plan maps and cross section of the Site, showing pre-construction water table(s), flow directions and planned pumping water levels (during construction dewatering), and
  • Water quality assessment.

City of Vancouver Application Flow Diagram
Image Source: City of Vancouver, Planning, Urban Design and Sustainability Department, Planning By-Law Administration Bulletin, Groundwater Management Bulletin v.0, August 2018

The hydrogeological study details how the onsite groundwater management system will meet the criteria. A preliminary hydrogeological study is to accompany the Rezoning Application for the Site. Submitted with this is also an acknowledgement (in writing) that a Groundwater Management Plan and Impact Assessment are to follow. The final hydrogeological study, which will include the Groundwater Management Plan and Impact Assessment, is to be submitted prior to Rezoning Enactment or with the Development Permit Application.

Keystone Environmental’s Registered Professional Hydrogeologists are fluent with this process, and can help navigate the Rezoning/Development Permit Application requirements for a Hydrogeological Study.