For those who live outside the boundaries of cities and towns, domestic water can be one of the most important issues when establishing a home. Where will it come from? How will it be used? How much will be needed? All of these questions should be answered when considering a home on a remote or rural property. If the property already has a home in place, prospective buyers should be asking the same questions.
Domestic water outside of city water systems generally comes from three sources: groundwater through wells; surface water through springs, creeks or rivers; and rain water. (There are other options, such as desalination plants if one lives on the ocean or water delivery which many island communities use in the dry summers when wells and cisterns are empty.) Of these three, it is currently the use of surface water that requires a licence to access in BC.
The Water Act of BC defines what licencing is required and what that licence entitles one to. A licence will define where the water may be taken from, how much water will be taken and what the water will be used for.Information on applying for a domestic freshwater licence can be found here: http://www.env.gov.bc.ca/wsd/water_rights/licence_application/index.html
The BC Government is in the process of evaluating the Water Act and changing the laws to reflect licencing for non-domestic ground water usage. This is expected to become law early this year, and more on that can be found here: http://engage.gov.bc.ca/watersustainabilityact/files/2015/07/LicensingGroundwaterUse-Web-Copy.pdf
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