Water licensing/rights deadline March 1

One of the items on the agenda at this week’s Trust Council meeting was a briefing by provincial water branch  personnel, wanting trustees to get the word out about water licensing and rights to continue historical use.

In 2016 the Water Act was replaced by the Water Sustainability Act. Both before and now the right to continue to use water is based on a license from the province, and the longer it has been held, the higher in the list of rights-holders it is. So if you have had a license since 2003, you would have more right to keep on using water you are licensed to use (the amount for the use you are licensed for) than someone who obtained their license after you.

Water users have until March 1 to apply and license their water use, and will be able to back-date their historic use to the time that they can establish (presumably to the branch’s satisfaction). After March 1 (or maybe on March 1) they can only get water license and rights dated at that date.  To sweeten the deal, the government has suspended the application fee of $250 (at least for domestic use).

Applicants will have to pay the rental owing from use since 2016. For domestic use of up to 100 cubic meters per day, rental cost for 2021 is $82.13 (That’s $2.25/1000 cubic meters for 36,500 cubic meters for 2021. It might cost less for previous years. It might not.)

After March 1 you could be required to stop using water without a license. You might be fined for using it “illegally”. You’ll have to pay the application fee, and you might have to pay for a study to show whether water is available. If it isn’t, you could be refused a license.

Information and resources on water use and licensing:


It is possible that dug wells do not need to be licensed.  I’m not sure. I was told that they should be registered. It hinges, I believe, on whether the dug well is surface water (from rain) or groundwater (seeping or flowing into the well.

I have a 9 slide PowerPoint presentation (PDF) that I can forward to anyone interested. I expect that the same information is available on the web site above. You could also watch the video of the meeting. Their presentation was fairly late on Wednesday afternoon. The video is not there yet, but it will be next week, at  https://islandstrust.bc.ca/event/trust-council-dec1/



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