Water Application Fees & Rental Rates

Last updated on February 22, 2024

You pay a one-time application fee when you apply for authorization to divert and use water, for a permit over Crown land, for a change approval or for a drilling authorization. Fees for amendments are charged after the new licence or approval is issued and will be based on the new allocation quantity.

Once your water licence or use approval is granted, you will also pay annual water rentals to divert and use the allocated water.

Application Fees

Most application fees vary based on how much water is required and how it is used. However, applications for a few specific water use purposes are charged a flat rate fee.

Fees are charged for applications for new water licences, use approvals, change approvals and drilling authorizations, as well as amendments to existing rights. Fees are also charged on applications for permits over Crown land, and are based on the affected area. You must submit the fees along with your application at FrontCounter BC.

The first six years of the Water Sustainability Act (WSA) were a transition period to bring approximately 20,000 existing non-domestic groundwater users into the water licensing scheme. Existing non-domestic groundwater users did not have to pay the one-time application fee if they applied for a licence on or before March 1, 2022.

Water Rental Rates

Generally, rental rates depend on the quantity of water authorized and on the specific water use. For some water use purposes, such as for a conservation purpose, a flat fee is charged regardless of water quantity.

Rental fees apply to surface water and groundwater use, as well as to permits over Crown land. Annual water rentals for existing non-domestic groundwater users began to accrue starting February 29, 2016, regardless of when an application for a licence is submitted within the six-year transition period (ended March 1, 2022). 

Domestic groundwater users are not required to pay water rentals.

Water Power

Application fees for water that will be used for power - commercial or power - general are based on a sliding scale that measures the capacity of the power development. The application fee is $1.00/kW for power developments that are 1MW or less. For power developments greater than 1MW, the application fee is $1/kW for the first MW and $250/MW or portion thereof for each additional MW.

Exemptions from Fees and Rentals

Application fees and annual rentals are not required from

  • Provincial or federal ministries
  • First Nations using water on reserve land,
  • A person or entity that is exempt under a First Nations treaty final agreement from fees and rentals for water use out of a treaty water reservation. This exemption also applies to those people or entities that were using groundwater on Treaty lands on or before February 29, 2016.
  • A person or entity that is exempt under the Nisga’a Final Agreement from fees and rentals for water use out of the Nisga’a Water Reservation. This exemption also applies to those people or entities that were using groundwater on Nisga’a Lands on or before February 29, 2016.
  • Use approvals, change approvals and permits that are processed by the BC Energy Regulator.

Other Fees

Miscellaneous fees may be added to your application, including

  • Copying or printing more than 20 pages of a licence or document
  • Research or compilation of data
  • Copying or printing maps
  • Certifying and witnessing licence documents and declarations


Submit your application fee by credit card online at FrontCounter BC, mail in a cheque or drop by an FrontCounter BC office to pay. Your application will not be processed until the payment is received.

Refund Information

Refunds of application fees and any water rentals paid on application for a:

  • water licence; 
  • use approval; 
  • change approval
  • permit over Crown land; 
  • drilling authorization; and,
  • any fees associated with changes to the above under sections 26 [amendment or substitution of authorization, change approval, or permit], 27 [transfer of appurtenancy], and 28 [apportionment of water rights under licences] of the Water Sustainability Act 
    will be calculated in accordance with the Refunds for Applications Policy. 
  • Refunds for Application Policy [PDF, 340KB]

Water rentals

Depending on how much you pay for your water each year, you will be billed by the Water Management Branch (Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development) in the following manner:

Contact information

For information or assistance contact us by telephone or email

Telephone: 1 877 855-3222

Email: water.revenue@gov.bc.ca