The quantity and quality of our water supply is essential to public health and sustainable communities.

Our climate is changing while our population and our economy continue to grow, increasing the demands and pressures on our water resources. 

Everyone plays a role in water conservation. Click here to learn about the Province's response to drought, and what you can do.

Groundwater and wells

Groundwater is water naturally occurring below the surface of the ground. If you use water from a well, then you are a groundwater user. Groundwater wells provide access to water for thousands of residents, businesses and municipalities across B.C.

As of March 2, 2022, if you are using groundwater for any non-domestic purpose, you are required to obtain a water licence to lawfully use, divert, or store the groundwater. This can be done by submitting a water licence application to Front Counter BC.

Laws and rules

Protecting our water supply means regulating its use so that water is available to sustain environmental, economic and human needs. 

A water right is the authorized use of surface water or groundwater under a water licence or approval. There are authorized uses of water outside of licensing, for example the use of unrecorded water, or the use of groundwater for domestic purposes. The Act and regulations provide rules, guidance and standards for gaining the right to use water, and for using water safely, responsibly and sustainably.

Water quantity

Water plays an important role in agriculture, power generation and in replenishing municipal water reserves. Snow and precipitation runoff from the mountains affects river levels, groundwater supply in aquifers and water availability. Surface water and groundwater quantity are monitored throughout the province to help plan for future water use and to guard against flood or drought conditions.

Drought, flooding, dikes and dams

Too much or too little water can pose risks to people, property, infrastructure, cultural values and the environment. The government of British Columbia is committed to reducing the risks of flooding and drought.

Water conservation

Water conservation is critical in summer months but year-round water conservation has significant benefits as well. Reducing water consumption decreases the amount of water that requires treatment, as well as sewage and infrastructure costs.

Water quality

Water is one of B.C.’s most important natural resources and must be managed appropriately to protect both human and ecosystem health.

Working around water

Modifications to the nature of a stream, including any modification to the flow of water or area adjacent to the stream, can create risk to personal or public safety and to the environment.

Water planning and strategies

With the growing demand for water comes the increasing need to create plans for water use. Planning our use of water ahead of time helps us to manage water supply and prepare for potential future problems.

Science and data

Discover some of the information, data, applications and geographic services that help to guide our management of water in B.C.