A critical deadline for select groundwater users is less than 90 days away.
March 1, 2022 is the deadline to apply for a water licence for “existing groundwater users” – those who were using groundwater from a well or dugout on or before Feb. 29, 2016 for non-domestic purposes such as irrigation, commercial or industrial use. A water licence is not required for a household well or groundwater used for domestic purposes, such as watering small lawns and gardens.
There may be serious consequences for your water use if you miss the March 1, 2022 deadline. Existing groundwater users who have not applied by the deadline will be unauthorized and must stop using water immediately. Those who miss the deadline will be treated as a “new user”, they will lose recognition of their historical date of first use, and the licence may be refused in water-stressed areas. The historical date is crucial because older licences get priority access to water during water shortages.
Missing the deadline could be costly and may include fines for unlicensed use of groundwater. Water licence applications made after the deadline will not benefit from the waived application fee and may require costly studies to support an application.
The online application has been improved over the years and one-on-one assistance is available to help you submit an application. If you need help with your licence application, please contact FrontCounter BC at 1-877-855-3222 (for other contact options see below).
Existing groundwater users are encouraged to have key pieces of information readily available to help the online application process go as smoothly as possible, such as: well location, depth and construction, property legal description, evidence of when groundwater was first used, history of use from the well, and other information about water use and works.
Our water is a precious and limited resource. Over the last decade we have witnessed the increasingly dramatic impact that a changing climate is having on British Columbia’s water resources and drought conditions. Recent experiences demonstrate the need to prepare for future climate conditions and reinforce this government’s commitment to strengthening water security. Groundwater licensing ensures there is a fair and transparent process in place for determining who uses the water, including during water shortages, and helps protect the environment, as well as the businesses and livelihoods that depend on reliable access to water.
We encourage you to visit www.groundwater.gov.bc.ca to learn more about licensing groundwater. If you are using groundwater for non-domestic purposes and have yet to apply, please act now to secure your water rights.
Apply online: groundwater.gov.bc.ca
- Questions and Answers: Groundwater Licensing
- Questions and Answers: Livestock Watering and Dugouts
- Video: How to apply (irrigation example)
Register a domestic well: Domestic wells do not require licences but you are encouraged to register your well so your use can be protected: