Time is running out for historic non-domestic groundwater users to apply for a licence before the impending deadline on March 1, 2022.
When the Water Sustainability Act (WSA) came into effect in BC on February 29, 2016, it superseded common law access to groundwater with new regulations requiring a mandatory licence to use and divert groundwater for anything other than domestic uses.
Under the WSA, new and existing non-domestic groundwater users must apply for groundwater licences to use groundwater from wells or dugouts for non-domestic purposes such as irrigation, commercial or industrial use after the deadline.
What does it mean to non-domestic existing users?
Before the WSA came into effect in 2016, approximately 20,000 existing non-domestic groundwater users relied on common law access to divert and use groundwater in BC.
To retain their historical right to groundwater access, all existing non-domestic groundwater users must apply for the licence before the 6-years transition period ends on March 1, 2022.
If they do not apply by the March 2022 deadline, they will not be legally allowed to continue using groundwater from their wells until they obtain the licence.
What seems to be the problem?
With only five months to the deadline, the estimated 80 percent of existing non-domestic groundwater users have yet to apply for the licence, primarily small business owners, ranchers, and farmers who depend on groundwater in rural BC.
Experts warn that lack of groundwater licensing is a crisis in the making, as about 16,000 existing non-domestic groundwater users in rural BC who have not applied for the licence by the deadline risk losing access to groundwater and recognition for their past groundwater use.
Learn more about Six months remain for groundwater users to apply for a licence from September 25, 2021; BC Gov. News.
Applying for Existing Use Groundwater Licence.