VICTORIA – An important deadline for some groundwater users is less than one year away.
March 1, 2022, is the deadline to apply for a water licence for those who were using groundwater from a well or dugout on or before Feb. 29, 2016, for non-domestic purposes, such as irrigation or industrial use. A water licence is not required for a household well or groundwater used for domestic purposes, such as watering lawns and gardens.
Existing groundwater users who have not applied by the deadline must stop using groundwater and will lose recognition of their historical date of first use. That historical date is important because during water shortages older licences get priority access to water.
Missing the deadline could also be costly and may include fines for using groundwater without having applied for a licence, a new-user one-time application fee and the cost of additional studies to support an application. Application fees are waived for existing groundwater users who apply before the deadline.
Groundwater is water that is naturally occurring below the surface of the ground. Licensing groundwater helps protect aquifers and streams, along with businesses and livelihoods that depend on reliable access to water. It also provides a fair, transparent and accountable process to manage water use throughout B.C. and is particularly valuable during periods of water shortage.
Domestic well owners are encouraged to register their groundwater well, at no cost, to ensure their well use will be considered in new licensing decisions and during times of water scarcity.