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Nova Scotia Environment

Water Approval, Water Allocation (Storage, Diversion or Withdrawal)

Who Needs This Approval?
Note: The water resource in a Canadian province is owned by the Crown, not by abutting property owners.

What counts as a "water resource" is explained under Additional Information, below.
Anyone who wants to use a watercourse or water resource by:
  1. withdrawing or diverting more than 23,000 litres per day;
  2. constructing or maintaining a dam;
  3. storing more than 25,000 cubic meters of water.
This licence is not required:
  1. For continuous water use less than 23,000 litres per day;
  2. for emergency use, less than 2 weeks (non-recurring);
  3. for use of brackish and sea water;
  4. for structures associated with marsh bodies under Marshland Reclamation Act .
Issuing Department / Agency:
Nova Scotia Environment
Where can you get this Approval and / or further information?
Office: Any Regional or District Office of Nova Scotia Environment
E-mail: EMC@novascotia.ca
Application Forms & Process:
You can get an application form for this Approval from any Regional or District Office of the Department or you can download the form from the website along with Guides for Water Withdrawal Approvals.  After it has been completed, it is submitted, along with the appropriate fee.

When the Department receives an application, staff review it to see if all the required information is on the form, and if the required supporting information has been provided.  If not, the application package is returned with an explanation as to what is missing. 

Once an application has been accepted by the Department as complete, the application form and supporting documentation undergo a technical review and evaluation.   This is to decide if the activity being proposed meets the minimum standards, policies, guidelines, procedures and regulations that are administered by the Department. 

When the application is completed, a review by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (Canada), Transport Canada, local authorities and community organizations may form part of the review process. 

If an applicant fails to meet these criteria, staff will tell them which specific criteria have not been met to the satisfaction of the Department. 

If an applicant meets all the criteria, the Approval will be sent to the applicant by mail..  This Approval will list any terms and conditions which the applicant must satisfy.
Waiting Period:
60 business days or less
Provided that all the items that must accompany the application have been received
Expiry & Renewal:
This approval is valid until the expiry date included on the approval.  It can be renewed.  It is the responsibility of the Approval holder to contact the Department before it expires; NO NOTICE of renewal will be sent out by the Department.
Price:

New Application:  $331.75

Annual fees:  
Hydroelectric power generation: Admin Fee 663.45 plus user fee based on rated generator capacity
Other water users: Admin Fee $265.40 plus user fee based on volume

Related Requirements:
Terms and conditions will be issued for each specific proposal and activity.
Other permits approvals that may be required:
  1. Navigable Water Protection Act, 1985, Transport Canada;
  2. Use of Crown Lands; See N.S. Department of Natural Resources;
  3. Building permit, local Municipality
  4. Submission Requirements for Watercourse Alterations if construction is required within a watercourse
Additional Information:
1) Licence holders must demonstrate beneficial use of the water within three years of the licence being issued.

2) "Watercourse" means any creek, brook, stream, river, lake, pond, spring, lagoon or any other natural body of water, and includes all the water in it, and also the bed and the shore (whether there is actually any water in it or not). It also includes all ground water. 

3) "Water resource" means all fresh and salt (marine) waters, including all surface water, groundwater and coastal water. 

The definitions of these terms are spelled out in the N.S. Environment Act; see Legislative Authority, below.
Legislative Authority:
Environment Act, Statutes of Nova Scotia, 1994-95, Chapter 1, Activities Designation Regulations and Approvals Procedure Regulations

Last Updated: April 2015

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