Water Allocation Notations

Last updated: October 16, 2023 

Water allocation notations (formerly water allocation restrictions) are a water management tool used to indicate the potential lack of water availability on a source.

Natural resource staff place water allocation notations on streams and aquifers to alert staff and prospective applicants to current or potential water allocation concerns. This information is then used to inform statutory decisions on water allocations. The current policy for notations is "Application of Water Allocation Notations to Water Authorizations." 

Notations cover a range of circumstances. For example, a notation may indicate that water may not be available for licensing or for short term use or may indicate a lack of groundwater availability for licensing. Some notations on streams and groundwater sources are related if they are hydraulically connected. For more information on surface and groundwater connectivity, see the Water Science Series Report “Determining the Likelihood of Hydraulic Connection”.

Current registered stream water allocation notations can be accessed through a PDF document that is updated quarterly. Additionally, stream water allocation notations can be identified through iMapBC. For notations on groundwater sources, please inquire with your local FrontCounterBC

Find current water allocation notations: 

Local knowledge is also an important source of information on water availability as iMapBC may not have a complete picture of water availability issues. 

If you are considering drilling a new well for non-domestic use and see a notation on a water source you intend to use or know of local water availability issues (e.g., low stream flows, drought), please review the “Before you Drill” brochure for an overview of the requirements to consider before drilling a well. We also recommend you call FrontCounter BC to talk to Water Authorization staff and/or a Regional Hydrogeologist before drilling.

Additional detailed technical guidance available for those considering drilling a well can be found in the Water Science Series report “Guidance for Technical Assessment Requirements in Support of an Application for Groundwater Use in British Columbia (Version 2)”.

Having an understanding of water availability before drilling, (e.g., professional assessment report), reduces the risk of drilling a well that cannot be authorized or submitting a water authorization application that may be refused on a source where there is not enough water available. For more information, see also the policy "Refusal of applications on over-subscribed sources".