Water Licenses #87
By Gerry Neely
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
|765 Broughton Street
|Lower Mainland Region
|Southern Interior Region
1259 Dalhousie Drive
540 Borland Street
Williams Lake, BC
3547 Skaha Lake Road
|310 Ward Street
3rd Flr., 1101-4th Ave.
Prince George, BC
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