Water Use - Short Term

Water Use - Short Term

A Short Term Use Approval under the Water Sustainability Act (WSA) permits you to divert and use water, and to construct works, for a term not exceeding 24 months. Amendments to an existing Short Term Use Approvals can be made by applying for a transfer of appurtenancy, change of works, change of purpose or extension of term.

Related Activities: Notification of Authorized Changes, Water Licences, Change Approvals


About this Activity Guide

This guide summarizes the most common requirements and recommendations for your chosen activity and is designed to help you submit a complete application. Be aware that this information is for guidance purposes only.

Mandatory Authorizations

Authorization Name Link to Authorization Guidance Link to Application
Short Term Use of Water Approval (Water Sustainability Act) Authorization Guidance Apply Now
Short Term Use Approval Amendment (Water Sustainability Act) Authorization Guidance Apply Now


Cost may be a specific value or range of values. The cost includes GST, where applicable.

Cost Type Cost Description Cost Link to Details
Application Fee Application processing fee due when the application is submitted. Varies by purpose. $250 - $10,000 Water Rent and Application Fee Estimator
Rent Rent is charged when the application is submitted. Varies by purpose. Water Rent and Application Fee Estimator

Eligibility Requirements

Ensure that you meet the eligibility requirements prior to applying.

Requirement Description
Any There are no limitations on who may apply, however, landowner consent must be provided for any lands where work is being done for this authorization.
Oil and gas related activities If work in this application is being done to support oil and gas activities that are being authorized by the BC Energy Regulator here instead.

Information Requirements

Requirement Description Link to Details
Short Term Use of Water Approval Online Application An online system which requires you to enter information onscreen and upload documentation, digital files and/or maps to support your application. What You Need To Apply
Proof of Legal Right to Land Documentation that you have legal right to the land, e.g., Certificate of Title or copy of a lease.
Drawings A drawing that meets the Water Application Drawing Standards. Drawing Standards

Potential Additional Requirements

Requirement Description When is it Required?
Agent Letter Signed and dated letter providing approval for agent or consultant to act on behalf of applicant. Legal names/entities to be used on letter. When an agent or consultant will be acting on behalf of applicant.
Crown Land Tenure Authorizes the use of Crown land when a Permit Over Crown Land is not sufficient. When any of the following apply:
  • The Water Use Purpose is either 'Power Commercial' or 'Power General'
  • Any of the new works are considered major works (meaning for conveyance of 0.01 m3/s or more, for waterworks purpose or industrial purpose)
  • Your new works include a dam higher than 9 metres or storage greater than 1,000,000 m3
  • Your new works include a permanent access road, a power house or transmission lines.
Permit Over Crown Land (PCL) Authorizes the flooding of Crown land or the construction, maintenance or operation of works on Crown land. When your works cross or otherwise affect Crown Land in a manner that does not require a Crown Land Tenure.
Supplemental Information or Technical Reports Case-specific information required to make a decision on your application. This information supplements what you already submitted. E.g., geotechnical report, fish report, or erosion control plans, etc. When government staff ask you to provide it.
Link Description
Water Sustainability Act The Water Sustainability Act is the principal law for managing the diversion and use of water resources in B.C.
Water Sustainability Act - Regulations The Water Sustainability Act (WSA) regulations provide details about how the general principles in the WSA are to be applied in B.C.
Water Policies Policies have been developed under the current Water Sustainability Act and informed by other provincial legislation to help guide the management of B.C.’s water resource.
Mapping Tools A listing of free B.C. web-based mapping programs and tools available to the public.
Water Licensing and Rights Information on water licensing and rights in B.C.
Water Licenses and Approvals General guidance on water licences and use approvals in B.C.
Water Use Purposes Categories and definitions for water use purposes in B.C.
Water Application Fees, Rentals and Refunds Guidance on water application fees, water rental rates, including a water rent estimator tool, and refund policy.
Drawing Standards Water application drawing standards required for application submission.
Joint Works Agreement Information on a Joint Works Agreement--where two or more applicants need to share in the construction or maintenance of works to be jointly used under a water licence or use approval.
Water Rights Databases Tools to search for information related to water licences, water users’ communities, and permits over Crown Land.
Licensing Groundwater in B.C. – Questions and Answers Questions and answers to assist with determining if a water licence is required and what is needed to submit an application.

Other Things You Should Know

Archaeology Information
Archaeological sites are protected under the Heritage Conservation Act and must not be altered or damaged without a permit issued by the Archaeology Branch. Information regarding potential risks to protected archaeological sites may be obtained by submitting an online data request form to the Archaeology Branch or by contacting a professional archaeologist via the BC Association of Professional Archaeologists (www.bcapa.ca) or via local directories. Visit the Archaeology Branch website for more information.

BCeID - What Is It and Why Get It?
BCeID is an online service that allows you to create a user ID and password to sign in securely to many Government services in British Columbia. The benefits of having a BCeID account include:

  • Stop and start. Save and return later to complete your application without losing any information previously entered.
  • Real time status information. Check the status of your application in real time.
  • Access your applications for multiple people (Business BCeID only) to edit or submit your application or check its status. To enroll in this service, visit the BCeID web page: FrontCounter BC - BCeID

Consulting with First Nations

  • The Province is committed to reconciliation as part of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People Act.
  • The Province is responsible for ensuring adequate and appropriate consultation and accommodation, it may involve the proponent in the procedural aspects of consultation.
Proponents are encouraged to engage with First Nations as early as possible in the planning stages to build relationships and for information sharing purposes. To get more information about the guidelines and procedure manuals that are designed to assist government officials and proponents with meeting consultation obligations, please visit the Consulting with First Nations web page.

Legal Disclaimer
This guide provides the most current and accurate information available to the Government of British Columbia at the time of publishing; however, we make no warranty regarding the completeness, currency or accuracy of this information. This information is for guidance purposes only and does not replace legislated requirements. Each application is unique and circumstances may result in additional requirements beyond those included in this guide.

Last Updated: July 14, 2023