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- British Columbia. Water Rights Branch
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The Water Rights Branch was established in 1909. Its name was changed to Water Management Branch in 1979.
The Water Rights Branch reported to the following departments and ministries: Dept. of Lands (1909-1945), Dept. of Lands and Forests (1945-1962), Dept. of Lands, Forests and Water Resources (1962-1975), Dept of Environment (1975-1976), Ministry of the Environment (1976-1978) and Ministry of Municipal Affairs (1978-1979).
The Dept. of Lands was established in 1908 (Department of Lands Act, SBC 1908, c. 31). Before 1908 the agencies responsible for the functions of the Dept. of Lands: (1) the Dept. of Lands and Works (Crown lands management, sales, pre-emptions and leases, lands surveying and mapping, timber inspection, forest protection and log scaling), and (2) the Dept. of Mines (water rights in regards to mining operations).
The Dept. of Lands, headed by the Chief Commissioner of Lands, was given responsibility for public lands and water rights, and all matters connected therewith. (SBC 1908, c. 31, s. 5). These responsibilities included: (1) the management of all public lands, as per the Land Act, (RSBC 1897, c. 113); (2) administration of water rights, as per the Water Clauses Consolidation Act, (RSBC 1897, c. 191) [in 1892 by means of the Water Privileges Act (SBC 1892, c. 47), the government had reserved to itself the right to manage all water resources in the province that were unreserved and un-appropriated as of April 23, 1892]; and (3) land settlement programs for returned soldiers.
In 1909, the enactment of the Water Act (SBC 1909, c. 48) resulted in the creation of the Water Rights Branch of the Dept. of Lands, under the management of the Chief Water Commissioner (re-named Comptroller of Water Rights in 1912). This legislation also resulted in the creation of Water Districts under the management of District Engineers, who would be responsible for management in the field of the Branch’s responsibilities.
In 1945, the Dept. of Lands was renamed the Dept. of Lands and Forests (Department of Lands Act Amendment Act, SBC 1945, c. 45).
Scope and content
The series consists primarily of small, hard-cover notebooks used for recording data in the field during hydrographic survey projects. It also consists of envelopes containing various textual and cartographic records. The purpose of the records was to document information recorded by Water Management Branch field surveyors when they completed hydrographic surveys. Information was used as reference material in preparation of topographical maps. Also recorded was information relating to projects completed by the Water Branch (such as irrigation projects). Also recorded was information of the time regarding claims and claimants to water rights. The records may have a high degree of long-range research value.
Many of the field books contain data for so many different geographic locations, it was impossible to list or reflect each location in the file titles.
Relevant information is to be found in many Dept. of Lands, Water Rights Branch annual reports, where the background and execution of the hydrographic surveys around the province are discussed. See for example the Sessional Papers of British Columbia, Session 1913, pgs. D 107 to D 222.
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- British Columbia. Water Rights Branch (Subject)