New provincial groundwater licence requirements

Jun 16 2020
Updated: Jun 16 2020

British Columbia’s Water Sustainability Act (WSA) requires licensing of groundwater use. If you are using groundwater (from a well or dugout) for non-domestic uses, the province requires you to submit an application for a groundwater licence.

The WSA came into effect February 29, 2016 and under the new rules of the act, all non-domestic groundwater wells must be licensed. The Groundwater Licence Application includes a series of questions related to the water works infrastructure and the hydrogeological setting (well details, estimated yield, etc.), and is submitted to the BC Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development (FLNRORD).

If you apply for a licence before March 1, 2022, the BC government will waive its application fee (for existing non-domestic use wells; application fees still apply for new water licences). The application fee can range from $250 to $10,000 per well depending on the water use purpose and the quantity of water used every year. By applying before the deadline, you will also establish your date of precedence, or seniority, over existing groundwater use to the date you began using the groundwater.

Domestic use is exempt from licensing. This is defined as household use by the occupants of a private dwelling, domestic animals, and watering a private lawn up to 1000 square metres in size.

Read more