Exemptions from Approval or Notification

Last updated on November 8, 2022

Some declared emergencies and certain changes in and about a stream do not require approval or notification.

You must have either a water use approval, a change approval or submit notification for all types of work in an around streams except for the specific emergencies and works described below.


When there is potential danger to life or property during an emergency, you do not need to submit notification or acquire approval to:

  • Construct or place erosion protection works or flood protection works when an emergency is declared under the Emergency Program Act, and/or
  • Clear an obstruction from a bridge or culvert.

Emergency flood work must be carried out by the Province, municipalities, regional districts and their agents. You must report any emergency flood work to a habitat officer at the Ministry of Forests (FOR) before beginning work. However, the Water Sustainability Regulation allows 72 hours to report the change. The work must comply with the habitat officer's specifications.

Flood damage restoration work is not considered an emergency, and requires notification or approval.

Works Exempt from Approval or Notification

When instream works are governed by standards or regulations set out by the Forest and Range Practices Act of British Columbia, approvals or notifications are not required. However, the work must comply with Part 3 of the Water Sustainability Regulation and must be carried out by a municipality or person who

  • Holds an agreement or road use permit under the Forest Act, an agreement under the Range Act, or a special use permit under the Forest Practices Code of British Columbia Act, or
  • Is authorized to construct or modify a road under the Coal Act, the Geothermal Resources Act, the Mines Act, the Mining Right of Way Act or the Petroleum and Natural Gas Act.

Permit Holders under the Mines Act and Oil and Gas Activities Act

A change in and about a stream may be made without approval or notification by a person who holds a permit under the Mines Act  if the person complies with Part 9 of the Health, Safety and Reclamation Code for Mines in British Columbia, and all conditions in the permit; or under the Oil and Gas Activities Act.

Water Sustainability Regulation

Read the full rules governing emergency work and other exemptions for approval or notification.

Water Sustainability Regulation

Working Around Water

Review the requirements and apply for a change approval for your work under non-emergency conditions.

Working Around Water

Apply for a change approval or submit notification of instream work

Contact information

Notify a Habitat Officer within 72 hours to report any changes you make under emergency conditions.