Water Application Fees & Rental Rates

You pay a one-time application fee when you apply for authorization to divert and use water, for a permit over Crown land, for a change approval or for a drilling authorization. Fees for amendments are charged after the new licence or approval is issued and will be based on the new allocation quantity.

Once your water licence or use approval is granted, you will also pay annual water rentals to divert and use the allocated water.

Application Fees

Most application fees vary based on how much water is required and how it is used. However, applications for a few specific water use purposes are charged a flat rate fee.

Fees are charged for applications for new water licences, use approvals, change approvals and drilling authorizations, as well as amendments to existing rights. Fees are also charged on applications for permits over Crown land, and are based on the affected area. You must submit the fees along with your application at FrontCounter BC.

The first three years of the Water Sustainability Act (WSA) are a transition period to bring approximately 20,000 existing non-domestic groundwater users into the current water licensing scheme. If you use groundwater for any non-domestic purpose, as of February 29, 2016 you are required to apply for a water licence to maintain your right to use groundwater. As an existing non-domestic groundwater user, you do not have to pay application fees if you apply for a licence on or before December 31, 2017.

Water Rental Rates

Generally, rental rates depend on the quantity of water authorized and on the specific water use. For some water use purposes, such as for a conservation purpose, a flat fee is charged regardless of water quantity.

Rental fees apply to surface water and groundwater use, as well as to permits over Crown land. Annual water rentals for existing non-domestic groundwater users began to accrue starting February 29, 2016, regardless of when an application for a licence is submitted within the three-year transition period. 

Domestic groundwater users are not required to pay water rentals.

Water Power

Application fees for water that will be used for power - commercial or power - general are based on a sliding scale that measures the capacity of the power development. The application fee is $1.00/kW for power developments that are 1MW or less. For power developments greater than 1MW, the application fee is $1/kW for the first MW and $250/MW or portion thereof for each additional MW.

Exemptions from Fees and Rentals

Application fees and annual rentals are not required from

  • Provincial or federal ministries
  • First Nations using water on reserve land,
  • A person or entity that is exempt under a First Nations treaty final agreement from fees and rentals for water use out of a treaty water reservation. This exemption also applies to those people or entities that were using groundwater on Treaty lands on or before February 29, 2016.
  • A person or entity that is exempt under the Nisga’a Final Agreement from fees and rentals for water use out of the Nisga’a Water Reservation. This exemption also applies to those people or entities that were using groundwater on Nisga’a Lands on or before February 29, 2016.
  • Use approvals, change approvals and permits that are processed by the BC Oil and Gas Commission

Other Fees

Miscellaneous fees may be added to your application, including

  • Copying or printing more than 20 pages of a licence or document
  • Research or compilation of data
  • Copying or printing maps
  • Certifying and witnessing licence documents and declarations

Payment

Submit your application fee by credit card online at FrontCounter BC, mail in a cheque or drop by an FrontCounter BC office to pay. Your application will not be processed until the payment is received.

Refund Information

Water applications will be returned with the received application fee in the following circumstances:

  • the application is incomplete; or
  • the proposal does not comply with legislation, for example the Water Sustainability Act; or
  • if some other aspect of the application make it inadmissible.

If the water application is accepted, refunds are provided as described in Table 1 of the Fee Refunds for Applications Policy.

A full refund of the application fee shall be provided where a client was directed in error by a staff member of the provincial government to submit an application. 

Water rentals

Depending on how much you pay for your water each year, you will be billed by the Water Management Branch (Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations) in the following manner:

  • Upon submitting an application as an existing non-domestic groundwater user (use began on or before February 29, 2016)
  • Twice a year if the annual rental is over $100,000.00
  • Once a year if the annual rental is over $60.00, but less than $100,000.00
  • Once every three years if the annual rental is $60.00 or less
  • Find answers to your questions about how and when you are billed for water use