Apply for a Water Licence

You can apply for a water licence online.

Once submitted, your application will be forwarded to a water manager. The water manager will review your application and inform you when a decision has been made.

Review and consultation

Applications undergo a technical review to make sure there is enough water at the source to issue a licence without affecting the existing water rights of others, or harming the water supply and aquatic ecosystem. Other government agencies, affected landowners and licensees may be notified of the application and given the chance to respond. First Nations in the area may also be consulted.

Learn which government agencies will be involved in the application process.

Requirements for groundwater users

If you use groundwater for any non-domestic purpose, such as irrigation, commercial or industrial use, you require a water licence under the Water Sustainability Act (WSA). This requirement came into force on February 29, 2016 and applies to new groundwater users as well as those who began using groundwater prior to February 29, 2016.

Water use purposes

Declaring a water use purpose helps to categorize how water is being used in B.C. You must select one or more water use purposes to complete your application. Multiple purposes may be included in a single authorization.

Issuing a water licence decision

The statutory decision maker (from Province of B.C. or the Oil and Gas Commission) decides whether to approve your water licence after gathering information, giving notice to affected parties and considering objections. The decision maker takes many factors into account. Some of the deciding factors are mandatory under the WSA, such as considering environmental flow needs.

The decision maker may refuse part or all of the application; require additional information and assessments; or grant all or part of the application and issue either a conditional or a final licence.

Typical terms and conditions associated with water licences include:

  • The name and location of the stream from which water may be taken or stored
  • The location of the intake on the stream
  • The priority date of the licence
  • The purpose(s) for which the water may be used
  • The maximum quantity of water that may be stored
  • The time of year during which the water may be used
  • The property where the water is to be used and to which the licence is attached
  • Authorization to construct works to divert and convey the water from the stream to the place of use
  • Other clauses that define special terms for a particular authorization

Appealing an application

The Environmental Appeal Board may consider appeals for applications that have been rejected or for licences that have been granted with unacceptable terms or conditions. Applicants, licensees, riparian landowners or affected landowners may have the right of appeal.