Dam Safety

More than 1,500 active dams in B.C. are regulated under the Water Sustainability Act. Regulated dams require a water licence issued under the Act and must meet the requirements specified in the Dam Safety Regulation.

There are procedures and practices that are important to know if you're involved in the management, design, construction, rehabilitation, decommissioning or removal of dams in B.C.

Dam Locations

Find a dam in B.C. using the following map application:


Other Water Retaining Structures

A number of structures that retain water are not licensed under the Water Sustainability Act. The Dam Safety Regulation does not apply to those structures.


Dams on a mine site that require a water licence may be regulated under the Water Sustainability Act and Dam Safety Regulation. Further information on regulatory authority on a mine site can be found within the Memorandum of Understanding between the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, Ministry of Energy and Mines and the Ministry of Environment. Other Acts and guidance for dams on a mine site includes:


A Water Sustainability Act authorization is required if any of the water in a dugout is groundwater from an aquifer (including seepage), or water from a “stream” as defined in the Act (which includes a lake, pond, river, creek, spring or other natural watercourse). The requirement for an authorization applies regardless of whether the source of the water, or the dugout, is located on Crown land or private land.

Dam Safety Regulation requirements may apply if a dugout includes an artificial barrier or embankment that was constructed to retain water.  

The report, Managing Dugouts in Northeastern British Columbia, identifies and explores the many policy issues associated with dugouts in northeast B.C. It was commissioned to support the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development’s efforts to clarify the regulatory regime for dugouts, and ensure landowners and proponents understand authorizations for dugouts required under the Water Sustainability Act. In summer 2017, ministry staff conducted field assessments on high priority dugouts and dams in the northeast to ensure existing structures are appropriately licensed, do not cause any public safety concerns and are not damaging the environment or water quality. The field assessments did not find any serious public safety issues and relatively few environmental hazards. The fact sheet details actions the ministry and OGC have taken in addressing the report’s 27 recommendations.