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Water Sustainability Act Fees – How Much Will It Cost to Licence My Well?

The BC provincial government has implemented two types of water licensing fees for groundwater: a one-time application fee and annual water rentals.

Groundwater Licence Application Fees

Note the one-time application fee is waived for existing users who apply before the March 1, 2019 deadline.

Application fees for all other users vary based on how much water is required and how it will be used. Fees vary from $250 to $10,000, depending on use and volume (see Table 1 below).

A more detailed application fee table is provided in the Water Sustainability Act Fees, Rentals and Charges Tariff Regulation.

Application fees are due at the time of your groundwater application submission.

Annual Water Rentals

Annual water rentals will be charged for all non-domestic groundwater users. Table 1 (below) summarizes the annual water rental volume-based rate and minimum fee for each well licence.

The volume-based rental rate ranges between $0.02 to $2.25 per 1000 cubic metres, depending on the proposed water use. The minimum annual rental fee ranges from $25 to $200.

A more detailed annual rental fee table is provided in the Water Sustainability Act Fees, Rentals and Charges Tariff Regulation.

Water rental fees will be accumulated from the date the Water Sustainability Act came into place. For example, if you apply for your groundwater licence on January 15, 2019, water rental fees will be charged from February 29, 2016 to December 31, 2019.

When Will I Be Charged Rental Fees?

Water rental fees are typically required when you submit your groundwater application. Going forward, the frequency you pay your rental fees will vary depending on the amount of your annual rental fee. If your annual rental fee is:

  • Over $100,000, you’ll be charged twice a year;

  • Over $60 but less than $100,000, you’ll be charged once a year (most cases); or,

  • Less than $60, you’ll be charged every three years.

Can You Show Me an Example?

If you use a well to irrigate a 10-acre farm and believe you might use about ~135,000 cubic metres of water per year, your rental rate will be $0.85 per 1000 cubic metres (see Table 1). So your annual rental fee will be 135 x $0.85 = $114.75. You'll then need to pay this fee from 2016 to the year you apply.

If you started using the well before February 29 2016, you won’t need to pay the on-time application fee of $250 IF you apply before March 1, 2019.

What if I use my well for more then one purpose?

If you use your well for more then one purpose, you’ll need to indicate that on your groundwater licence application, and your fees will vary accordingly.

In the example above, if you also use 5 cubic metres per day (about 1,825 cubic metres per year) for truck and equipment washing, your rental rate for that purpose will be $2.25 per 1000 cubic metres, as vehicle washing is considered industrial use. This would equal $4.11 ($2.25 x 1.825); however, there’s a minimum annual fee for vehicle washing of $200. Therefore, your total rental cost for 1 year would be $115 + 200 = $315.

Want to know more about the new fees and how they apply to your situation?

Contact Waterline's Water Sustainability Coordinator,

Maury Scott at:

250-585-0802 |

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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