Who Is Responsible for Our Systems?

There are thousands of water and wastewater systems in BC, ranging from wells and septic systems that serve single homeowners, to large and complex systems that serve many households and businesses. Some of these systems are owned and operated by government organization like municipalities, improvement districts, regional districts, and First Nations bands; others are owned and operated by private utilities, stratas or individual homeowners.
In BC, the provincial government is responsible for setting regulations, monitoring for compliance with regulations and guidelines, providing water licenses to access fresh water sources, and permits to discharge effluent to the environment. In most urbanized areas, local municipalities, regional districts or improvement districts are responsible for operating and maintaining the pipes, pumps and equipment for water, sewer and stormwater systems that deliver and take away used water for property owners. Watch this video to learn more about the People Behind Our Water.

The following BC ministries share responsibility for managing our water resources:

Individual property and homeowners are responsible for maintaining the pipes that connects their building to the water and sewer systems.
In many rural areas, individual homeowners are responsible for maintaining their own well and/or septic system.


Water resources are governed through several federal and provincial acts that provide the framework for regulations that establish criteria for water quality and treatment.

Drinking Water

Drinking water systems are regulated by the BC Ministry of Health under the Drinking Water Protection Act, and Drinking Water Protection Regulation. Local health authorities work with municipalities, using BC Drinking Water Guidelines and Canadian Drinking Water Guidelines to ensure that water is safe to drink.

Sewer Systems

Sewer systems are regulated by the BC Ministry of Environment under the Provincial Environmental Management Act, and Municipal Waste Water Regulation, and must adhere to the Federal Fisheries Act, and Federal Wastewater Regulation. Small sewage systems, like septic tanks, are regulated in BC by the BC Ministry of Health under the Sewerage System Regulation.

We can all support our water systems. TAKE ACTION NOW!