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Pumping Water

The 1.5 Inch Pump Rule is Now Official

I am not an expert on mining law - I am just trying to help. Use the information in this website at your own risk. See the Notice at the bottom of this page.

Using a Pump Without a Licence

If your hand mining doesn't need a permit, you can use a water pump without a licence if the suction intake is no larger than 38 mm or 1.5 inches.

The water intake must be screened - see below.

In April 2016, Information Update No. 38 was published - Acceptable Practices for Placer Hand Mining in British Columbia.

Rule 6 made the 1.5 Inch Pump Rule official. It is about sluice boxes and highbankers, and using small portable water pumps. The rule ends...

Size of pumps shall not exceed a 38 mm (1.5 inches) suction intake.

Using a 2 Inch Pump with a 1.5 Inch Restriction?

Early in May 2016, a few weeks after the new Information Update came out, I asked an Inspector at Mineral Titles Branch. The question was raised and considered and the answer was: No. The 1.5 inches is about the "suction intake" of the pump, not the end of the suction hose.

If you have a 2-inch pump and really don't want to buy another one, you might want to contact the appropriate Regional Mining Office. Or maybe Mineral Titles. One of them may be able to help. Or maybe not - they may say that you must apply to use the pump.

Intake Screening

The water intake must be properly screened - no openings larger than 2.5 mm, and enough surface area that the water flow can't trap tiny fish.

The water intake must be inside a screened box or bucket. It may be weighted so that it sits on the stream bottom. The screens should be at least 12 inches above the stream bottom.

The screening requirements are the: Freshwater Intake End-of-Pipe Fish Screen Guideline from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO).

Hand Miners that can Pump without a Licence
Can Ignore the Rest of this Page

If You Must Apply...

You must apply to pump water if...

Pumping water from a watercourse is governed by the Water Sustainability Act, which came into force February 29, 2016.

There is a government Water Sustainability Act Home Page.

The Environment Ministry has its Water Sustainability Act main page.

if you plan to pump water, and you need a bigger pump or you do not qualify as a Hand Miner, you must apply for...

To get a water licence, it may be necessary to do a Notice of Work application to obtain a Reclamation Permit, even if you don't otherwise need one.

Learning about applying...

For information about applying, see the Environment Ministry's...

Water Licensing & Rights, which has general information and links including...
Water Licences & Approvals, which has a variety of links, including...
Apply for a Water Licence, which has a lot of information, including...

The FrontCounterBC - Water page also has applications for

Application Cost and Water Rental

Its seems that the application for either a licence or an approval costs $500 and the Minimum Annual Rental is $200. These numbers seem high, but they were based on the work involved in handling and making decisions about applications and year to year rentals.

For a machine-digging operation, these are not large costs. For a modest hand-digging operation, these are significant costs, possibly comparable with the other major out-of-pocket expense - travel expenses.

Get a Licence to Lock In Your Right To Pump

The title pretty much says it. If it is a smallish stream, and you plan to use a sluice box or highbanker for more than one year, a licence means you know you have the right to pump the water.

Small-Scale Water Pumping Math (if you care)

Some Conversions

In Canada, we use Imperial gallons, which are larger than US gallons.

1 US gallon   =   3.785 Litres     so  50 gal   x  3.785   =  189 L
1 Imperial gallon   =   4.546 Litres     so  50 gal   x  4.546   =  227 L
1 Imperial gallon   =   1.2 US gal     so  50 Imp gal   x  1.2   =  60 US gal

1 Cubic Metre ("m3")  =  1000 L  =  220 Imp gal  =  264 US gal

Small Pump Capacity

These ranges may not really be right, but they give you the idea.

Pump Size US gal/min Litres/min cubic metres/hr
1.5 inch   50 to 100 200 to 400 12 to 24
   2 inch 100 to 200 400 to 800 24 to 48

Using Water

A quick Google search turned up a 1.5 inch gasoline-powered Honda pump.

The stated capacity was 74 gpm which is 280 L/min

280 L/min / 1000 l/m3 = 0.28 m3/min

0.28 m3/min x 60 min/hr = 16.8 m3/hr

If you know the conversion factor, but you don't know whether you should multiply or divide, first decide whether the result is going to be larger or smaller than the starting number.
An individual small-scale placer miner might run the pump at 1/3rd to 2/3rds capacity - 6 to 12 m3/hr.

At 5 hrs/day: 6 m3/hr x 5 hrs/day = 30 m3/day     to     12 m3/hr x 5 hrs/day = 60 m3/day

At 10 hrs/day, double those to 60 to 120 m3/day


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