For those living in a city or other residential area, domestic water is generally taken for granted unless water restrictions are enacted. Water simply comes when you turn on the tap, and if it doesn’t you call your city or municipality and find out why.
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 about any water system in place.
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 road-access 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 domestic freshwater licences can be found here: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/environment/air-land-water/water/water-licensing-rights/water-licences-approvals
If the property has an existing well, it may be possible to look up information. The province does track wells installed by well drillers, however this database was voluntary before 2016. https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/environment/air-land-water/water/groundwater-wells-aquifers/groundwater-wells/information-for-property-owners/well-records-registration
Rain water collection is commonly done in a cistern, which can be either above or below ground. They are often hidden underneath a deck.
Many recreational and remote property owners use tanks to store additional water. This is especially useful on the west coast, where we tend to have plenty of water in the wet winter months and less in the summer months when the properties are seeing heavier use.
Knowing where the water is coming from, or what the options are to get water, makes for good peace of mind when considering an unconventional property.
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