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Groundwater licence deadline March 1, 2022

If you divert and use groundwater for non-domestic purposes, you must now obtain a water licence and pay water fees and rentals. This change came into force with the Water Sustainability Act (WSA) on February 29, 2016. If you are a groundwater user, licensing clarifies how much water you can legally use, and increases the security of your access to that water. Licensing establishes rights to groundwater based on the same priority scheme that currently exists for surface water, and will help to reduce conflicts between water users in times of scarcity.

The first six years of the WSA are a transition period to bring in existing non-domestic groundwater users into the current water licensing scheme and its first-in-time, first-in-right (FITFIR) priority system. If you are an existing non-domestic groundwater user, you must apply within the six-year transition period to maintain your date of precedence. If you submit your application on or before March 1, 2022, your one-time application fees will be waived.

Senior licensees are given priority over junior licensees when it comes to exercising their full rights to water. If you are an existing user and you apply for a water licence during the first six years of the WSA (February 29, 2016 to March 1, 2022), you will be granted a date of precedence based on the date you began using groundwater, as determined by evidence submitted with the application. If you wait to apply until after March 1, 2022, you must pay application fees and will be treated as a new applicant, being given a junior priority date based on the date of your application. This junior priority date could affect your access to water by diversion, restriction, or curtailed usage during times of water scarcity or drought.

See the Province’s New Requirements for Groundwater Users webpage for a list of acceptable evidence and more information.  Additional information can also be obtained from Front Counter BC (1-877-855-3222 or FrontCounterBC@gov.bc.ca).