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Groundwater Licencing in BC: Why Your Date of Precedence Matters

When you apply for a groundwater licence in BC, or have a professional apply on your behalf, you’ll need to specify the date of first use of the water. This is known as your “date of precedence” or “priority date”.

Groundwater users that began using their water at an earlier date (senior licencees) are given priority by the BC provincial government over more recent users (junior licencees) under the First-in-Time First-in-Right (FITFIR) priority system.

Your date of precedence could become important during times of water scarcity or drought, or if a new user proposes to withdraw water at a rate and volume that could affect your water needs. The BC provincial government can apply a number of regulatory options to protect the rights of water users. The date of precedence establishes who’s allowed their full allocation of water first during times of water scarcity or drought.

Irrigation and agriculture water users now require a water licence for groundwater use. Secure your priority date under the First-In-Time First-In-Right priority system by applying for a groundwater licence today.

If you’re an existing user and you apply for a water licence before March 1, 2019, you’ll be granted a date of precedence based on the date you began using groundwater, as determined by evidence submitted with your groundwater licence application. Evidence could include:

  • A well log or record provided by the driller. Waterline is often able to locate well records online if applicants don’t have copies;

  • Other records and invoices related to the construction of your well or related infrastructure (pump, treatment etc.);

  • Well maintenance records; and,

  • Photographs.

In the event you don’t have any evidence to support your date of first use, Waterline can discuss with the government on your behalf to come up with an alternative solution.

If you wait until after March 1, 2019 to apply, you’ll be treated as a new applicant and given a junior priority date based on the date of your application. In addition, you could be subject to penalties and fines. Read more about the BC Water Sustainability Act deadline here.

You'll also have the opportunity as a licensee to be notified and to object to neighbouring future applications that my detrimentally affect your water supply under Section 13 of the Water Sustainability Act.

Secure your water rights now!

Contact Waterline's Water Sustainability Coordinator at: 1-844-585-0802 Ext. 112 or

Waterline Resources has applied for over a hundred groundwater applications on behalf of clients across BC . We use our in-house Geodatabase System to extract the required information for the applications quickly, and we correspond with the government on your behalf.

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