Jul 01, 1986

Water Licenses #87


By Gerry Neely
B.A. LL.B.

The Water Management Branch of the Ministry of Environment has advised BCREA that of the 37,500 active water licenses in the Province, a significant number are in arrears and subject to cancellation. The investigation carried out by the Branch reveals that many purchasers were not advised that a water license existed for the source of water to the property that the individual purchased.

In British Columbia, all water in the Province is the property of the Crown and, with the exception of undersurface water (ground water), its use by an individual may only be established under a license or approval given under the Water Act. The license protects the rights of the users on the basis of a priority resulting from the earliest application to the most recent application, with the highest priority being given to the earliest application.

The license may be cancelled for a number of reasons, but the main reasons are the failure by the licensee to use the water for the purposes authorized under the license for three successive years, or a failure to pay the annual rental for a period of three years.

Many purchasers are not aware of the above and, in fact, mistakenly believe that they own the water because it crosses their property. They are not aware that as the new owner they are responsible for any arrears in the rentals as well as the annual water rental charge.

The Branch suggests that licensees could perform a very useful service by advising prospective purchasers that a water license is required if they are using surface water for domestic or other purposes and that this is the only way that they can protect themselves for the continued use of the water. In addition, since the water license is attached to the property being purchased, the Water Management Branch should be advised of the change of ownership and the address to which any notices, including notice of the annual rental to be paid, should be sent.

The following is repeated as a handy guide for areas in the Province where license information and status of rental payments may be obtained from the appropriate Waste Management offices:

Vancouver Island Region 
2569 Kenworth Road
Nanaimo, BC
V9T 4P7
Tel: 758-3951
765 Broughton Street
Victoria, BC
V8V 1X5
Tel: 387-5981
Lower Mainland Region 
10334-152A Street
Surrey, BC
V3R 7P8
Tel: 584-8822
Southern Interior Region 
1259 Dalhousie Drive
Kamloops, BC
V2C 5Z5
Tel: 374-9717
Williams Lake
540 Borland Street
Williams Lake, BC
V2G 1R8
Tel: 398-4531
3547 Skaha Lake Road
Penticton, BC
V9T 4P7
Tel: 493-8261
Kootenay Region 
310 Ward Street
Nelson, BC
V1L 5S4
Tel: 354-6121
Northern Region 
Prince George
3rd Flr., 1101-4th Ave.
Prince George, BC
V2L 3H9
Tel: 565-6011
Bag 5000
Smithers, BC
Tel: 847-7211

To subscribe to receive BCREA publications such as this one, or to update your email address or current subscriptions, click here.

Without limiting the Terms of Use applicable to your use of BCREA's website and the information contained thereon, the information contained in BCREA’s Legally Speaking publications is prepared by external third-party contributors and provided for general informational purposes only. The information in BCREA’s Legally Speaking publications should not be considered legal advice, and BCREA does not intend for it to amount to advice on which you should rely. You should not, in any circumstances, rely on the legal information without first consulting with your lawyer about its accuracy and applicability. BCREA makes no representation about and has no responsibility to you or any other person for the accuracy, reliability or timeliness of the information supplied by any external third-party contributors.