Tag Archives: groundwater

Do I need a groundwater license?

Important information:

You are now required to obtain a water license from the Province if you are a non-domestic groundwater user.

The new BC Water Sustainability Act came into force on February 29, 2016. One of the most important pieces of new regulation was regarding groundwater licensing. 

The main distinction to make in order to understand groundwater licensing requirements is whether you are a domestic or non-domestic groundwater user.

Domestic Groundwater Use:

Wells used  for domestic (household) purposes a single property ⇒  no license required; encouraged to register well with the Province.

Non- Domestic Groundwater Use:

All uses other than domestic including agriculture, irrigation, commercial, power, waterworks etc.⇒ requires a license.

Key points:

  • a water license grants access to a total annual volume of groundwater; the licensee pays annual ‘rentals’ (fees) to the Province.
  • if you want to avoid an application fee, you must apply for your license prior to March 1, 2022. Rental fees still apply, back dated to when the regulation took effect in 2016.
  • existing groundwater users have until March 1, 2022 to apply for a license in order to maintain status as an ‘existing user’ with a priority date of first use.
  • applicants after March 1, 2022 will be treated as new users with no historic priority date of use.

Secure your water rights today! More info at the Provincial webpage: New Requirements for Groundwater Users

Ready to license your non-domestic well? Start here:  http://www.frontcounterbc.gov.bc.ca/Start/ground-water/

What is the difference between registering your well and licensing your groundwater use?

Groundwater licenses are only attainable (and required) for non-domestic groundwater uses… i.e. uses other than a household well for domestic use… as described above.

Domestic groundwater users are encouraged to register their well(s) with the Province, so their domestic water rights can be recognized. Registering your well creates a record (i.e. a dot on the map) indicating your domestic water use and helps to ensure that your use is considered by the decision makers dealing with other license applications. This is to the domestic well owner’s benefit. There are no fees involved with registering your well, it is just a matter of creating a record. When registering your well you will need any available information such as your well log, well location, well depth etc.

To see if a well record already exists in the Provincial database, contact FrontCounter BC.

Registration is just for domestic use. If you are a non-domestic users, your well is brought into the Provincial system via licensing.

Attention farmers! Here is a handy tool to help calculate your irrigation volume, by area, soil and sprinkler type. This can help you determine what annual volume to put on your license application:


Was this blog post helpful? Email waterprotection@rdn.bc.ca with comments, feedback or questions!

New Regulations under the Water Sustainability Act

The Province of BC on February 29, 2016 announced several initial regulations that have now come into force under the Water Sustainability Act.

Some of the highlights are as follows:

Water Sustainability Regulation

  • mandates the licensing of groundwater for non-domestic use – this includes community water supply, agricultural irrigation, industry etc.
  • groundwater users (non-domestic) will have a one-year grace period to apply for a license and have the application fee waived.
  • groundwater users have three years (from Feb. 29, 2016) to apply for a license if they want to maintain their priority date of first use.
  • all applications received after March 1, 2019 will be treated as new users, with no historic priority date of use.

Groundwater Protection Regulation

  • outlines operating and maintenance requirements and standards for groundwater wells.
  • mandates the submission of well records for newly drilled wells.

Other new regulations include: Dam Safety Regulation, Violation Ticket and Fines Regulation, Fees and Rentals Regulation.

Onward from 2016, further essential regulations will be developed under the Water Sustainability Act such as:

  • Water Objectives
  • Water Sustainability Plans
  • Measuring and reporting
  • Licence reviews
  • Designated areas
  • Dedicated agricultural water; and
  • Alternative governance approaches

For more information see the Provincial website at https://engage.gov.bc.ca/watersustainabilityact/ 

For more analysis of the opportunities that the new Act provides, you may be interested in the POLIS Project of Ecological Governance report entitled Awash with Opportunity: Ensuring the Sustainability of BC’s New Water Law

Interactive Graphs on Groundwater Levels in BC

The BC Ministry of Environment, Environmental Reporting division, has come out with a great new way to see how Groundwater Levels are faring across the province. Their data comes from a network of dedicated observation wells that monitor groundwater availability in developed areas.

To get the scoop, and play with the interactive graphs, check out

Water Budget - BC Obs well site image

NOTE (Feb.2016): These interactive graphs have unique functionality but are only current to 2014 – to access the more current BC Observation Wells data (less interactive) please see:  http://www.env.gov.bc.ca/wsd/data_searches/obswell/map/

There are 34 provincial observation wells which are currently active. Through a grant-funded, multi-government level partnership, 17 of these wells were added to the network between 2011 – 2013 as part of an expansion initiative to gain more groundwater data in the RDN.

4 of the wells in the RDN are displaying “large declines” according to the provincial data. 3 are showing “moderate declines” and 17 do not have enough data for trend analysis (those would be for the most part the newly added wells!) 10 have shown levels to be “stable or increasing”.

Also, a new video “It’s called groundwater!” helps explain this important resource.

Its called gw - youtube