Apply for a Change Approval or Submit Notification of Instream Work

A change approval is written authorization to make complex changes in and about a stream. A notification is used for specified low risk changes in and about a stream that have minimal impact on the environment or third parties.

Change approvals

Change approvals are granted with terms and conditions attached. The terms and conditions may relate to the time of year in which you may do the work, and/or to other measures that protect the aquatic ecosystem, the hydraulic integrity of the stream channel and the rights of water users and landowners downstream.

Change approval application process

After you submit your application and all required fees and signatures at FrontCounter BC, your application will be reviewed by a water manager. Applications for change approvals are typically referred to other provincial and federal regulatory agencies for comment during the adjudication process. Consultation with First Nations, other water users, community groups or other parties may be required if existing rights could be affected by your application.

The water manager will notify you when a decision has been made.


Notifications are used for specified low risk changes in and about a stream that have minimal impact on the environment or third parties. The work must meet the requirements of the Water Sustainability Regulation (WSR), and comply with any conditions set out by a habitat officer in response to a notification.

Notification process

You must submit your notification of proposed work to FrontCounter BC a minimum of 45 days before beginning work (submitting more than 45 days ahead of time is recommended). Your notification will be sent to a habitat officer in the region in which you have proposed to make the change. If you have not heard from the habitat officer within 45 days of them receiving your notification, you must make sure that your work meets the terms and conditions described in Part 3 of the WSR, and you may proceed with the proposed changes.

Emergencies and exceptions

Certain emergencies and specific types of work do not require approval or notification. However, during emergencies, the Province should be informed of potential changes to water sources before you begin work. Emergency flood work must be reported to a habitat officer within 72 hours of the change, and you must comply with measures supplied by the engineer and with the terms and conditions specified by the habitat officer.