Keeping Clients Out of Hot Water Over Groundwater Licencing

Nov 18, 2019

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April van Ert

Droughts, water restrictions and wildfires have all become part of a typical BC summer, just like Okanagan cherries or a BC Day barbecue. Despite all of BC's lakes and rivers, the truth is that water scarcity is a serious concern. That's why the provincial government introduced the Water Sustainability Act in 2016, which requires anyone diverting and using groundwater for non-domestic purposes to apply for a groundwater license by March 1, 2022.

Groundwater licensing & REALTORS®
If you have a client who uses groundwater for non-domestic purposes but doesn't apply for a water license by March 1, 2022, they risk losing their right to access groundwater on their property. As a REALTOR®, you can add value to your clients by making sure they understand this requirement and how to apply for their license.

How groundwater licensing works
The groundwater licensing requirement came into effect on February 29, 2016. But that doesn't mean it only applies to anyone who began using groundwater after this date-it applies to everyone. If you were a non-domestic groundwater user on or before February 29, 2016, you will submit an existing use licence application. If you were a non-domestic groundwater user on or after March 1, 2016, you will submit a new use application.

The deadline to apply is March 1, 2022 and the government is waiving the one-time application fee to people who submit their application on or before this date.

What about domestic users?
If you use groundwater for domestic use in a private home, you do not require a licence. However, as a REALTOR®, you should encourage your clients to register their well, if they have one. By registering their well, they create a record of their water use, which helps ensure it's considered by the decision-makers dealing with other licence applications.

How to apply for a licence
For information on how to apply or to submit an application for groundwater licensing or register a well, please visit the Province's Secure Your Water Rights Today portal. FrontCounter BC has also recently published a useful webinar on how to submit an application for an existing use groundwater licence.

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