Surface Water Allocation

An analysis of surface water allocation by sector provides an estimate of how much surface water is allocated to different purposes in B.C.

The analysis was conducted for 44,000 surface water licences. As each licence may authorize up to three water use purposes, roughly 49,000 allocations were considered in the analysis.

The 49,000 allocations are broken down by sector and illuminated in the following graphs.

Volume by Purpose

The first graph indicates the total amount of surface water authorized to be used annually in B.C., including waterpower. The second graph indicates surface water allocation by sector, excluding water power.

Consumptive and Non-consumptive Use

The first graph indicates surface water by consumptive use by sector. Water in consumptive use is withdrawn from the water body, used and not returned, as for irrigation purposes.

The second graph indicates surface water allocation for non-consumptive use by sector. Water in non-consumptive use is taken from the water body and used, then returned, as in treated sewage or wastewater.

Estimates for Overview

The figures in each graph are estimates only. Despite most water licences specifying the amount of water authorized for diversion, use or storage, several hundred licences have been issued for the total flow of a water source, without a volume rate.

The estimates have been prepared for a provincial overview and do not break the information down by region.

The summary does not include authorization under water use approvals. Use approvals may be issued for a variety of purposes that result in significant water withdrawals, including road construction and maintenance; placer mining for exploration; and oil filed injection and pressure testing supporting the oil and gas industry.