• Jolene Hermanson

Groundwater Licensing in BC: Why Your Date of Precedence Matters

Updated: Jun 23, 2020

When you apply for a groundwater licence, 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 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.

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.

If you are interested in having a professional hydrogeologist create and submit an application package to the government on your behalf, please contact:

Steph Righi, Waterline's Water Sustainability Coordinator at:

Phone: 1-844-585-0802 Ext. 112

Email :

#watersustainabilityact #bcwaterlicence #waterapplication #waterpermitting

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