Locating BC Water Well Records

The British Columbia Geographic System (BCGS ) Map Interface can be used to locate and display BC water well records and place names within a BCGS area. The map interface provides a clickable zoom feature which navigates the province according to a breakdown of the BCGS. The BCGS is an extension of the National Topographic System (NTS) for mapping scales of 1:20,000 and larger. The BC government's Water Well Database does not currently support searching for well records by Geographic coordinates (Latitude/Longitude). However, most wells have been accurately located and an associated BCGS map number has been assigned to each well location. The BCGS Map Interface allows you to convert Geographic or UTM  coordinates to BCGS to locate any well in the database.

Canada is divided into numbered primary quadrangles and there are 9 quadrangles that cover BC (i.e. 082, 083, 092, 093, 094, 102, 103, 104, 114).  Each quadrangle is further divided into 16 parts denoted by the letters A to P. A lettered quadrangle (e.g. 092P) represents an area at 1:250,000 scale. The BCGS takes a lettered quadrangle and divides it into 100 sections where the longitude is double the latitude for all sections. Each section represents an area at 1:20,000 scale (e.g. 092P100). Scales larger than 1:20,000 are obtained by successive quartering and represented by appending digits, 1 to 4 to the end of the map number (e.g. 092P01512343). The length of the map number (number of characters) indicates the size of the area and the scale. Note that the BCGS map number always refers to a rectangular area. The locations of any points on the border of a BCGS area are ambiguous.



The range for Geographic coordinates for BC is 48 to 60 degrees Latitude (N) by 114 to 140 degrees Longitude (W). Since a GPS coordinate represents a point, the map interface locates the BCGS area where the point lies within. The Accuracy field can be used to set the size of the BCGS area. The Accuracy is specified by the length of the map number (4,7-24). If no Accuracy is set, then an Accuracy of 4 is assumed which is a lettered quadrangle (e.g. 092P) at 1:250,000 scale. The next level of Accuracy must be 7 to 24. An accuracy of 7 displays a map at 1:20,000 scale and greater than 7 shows a BCGS rectangle within a map at 1:20,000 scale. Only the zoom feature displays scales larger than 1:20,000.

Latitude and Longitude values must be input in decimal degrees. Geographic coordinates are typically represented by degrees and decimal minutes. Convert to decimal degrees by dividing the minutes by 60.

Selecting the Get Map button displays the BCGS area with a marker placed in the GPS location. Selecting the Get Wells button searches for all wells within the BCGS area and displays a list of links to the well maps. For example:


Selecting the Get Map button produces the following 1:20,000 scale map (092B053):

Selecting the Get Wells button produces the following list of links for wells located within 092B053212:

Selecting the link for Tag 20976 produces the following 1:20,000 scale map (092B053):

Clicking inside the BCGS region displays a zoomed view at 1:2,500 scale . Clicking outside the BCGS region centers the view window to the adjacent 1:20,000 scale region.

Selecting the Zoom Out link displays the well tag location at 1:250,000 scale (092B). Selecting the Well Record link displays a detailed BC Water Well Record for well tag 20976.

Selecting returns back to the previously viewed page, Main returns to the start page, returns forward to a previously viewed page (if any), refreshes the current page.


UTM Coordinates

Universal Transverse Mercator (UTM) coordinates are used by all the Geographic Information System (GIS) databases in BC. UTM is a system of world coordinates that is expressed in meters according to the NAD83 (North American Datum 1983) system.

UTM coordinates are expressed in terms of a Zone number (7 to 11 for BC) and easting (6 digits X meters) and northing (7 digits Y meters) coordinates within this zone. It will look like the following on a GPS:

10 S  0559741 Easting
      4282182 Northing

UTM units can be converted to Geographic by entering the UTM x, y positions in meters into the Longitude, Latitude fields, respectively. The map interface will detect the UTM units and convert them to geographic units and insert them into the Longitude, Latitude fields. You can specify a Zone number in either field (separated by a space or comma) which must be either 7, 8, 9, 10 or 11. If no UTM zone is specified, zone 10 will be assumed.



If the BCGS map number is known, it can be entered directly to locate wells. This has the exact same behaviour as inputting the GPS plus the Accuracy except that the accuracy is implicit in the map number. If a BCGS Map number is entered then the Latitude, Longitude and Accuracy fields are ignored.



The BCGS Map Interface can also search for BC place names such as cities, districts, lakes, etc. Enter a string in the Name/Tag field and select the Get Map button to display a list of links with all place names that contain the search string. Select a link from the list to display the place name against a 1:20,000 scale map. You may also enter a Tag number (1 to 94,021) in the Name/Tag field and select the Get Wells button to display the well tag on a 1:20,000 scaled map. Enter a search string in the Name/Tag field and select the Get Wells button to display a list of links with all well tags that contain the search string in the owner's name or address of the well record. If a value is entered in the Name/Tag field then all other fields are ignored.



The Accuracy of a BCGS map region is implicit in the length of its map number. An Accuracy of 4 (e.g. 093E) represents a map at 1:250,000 scale. An Accuracy of 7 (e.g. 093E023) represents a map at 1:20,000 scale. The Accuracy is used in conjunction with a Geographic coordinate (Lat/Lon) to define the size of the BCGS region. The range for Accuracy is 4 or 7 to 24. See the Range of BCGS Accuracy and Coverage for a description.


Find Address

The Find Address input box can be used to locate a specific geocoded location such as an address or land feature. You must enter enough information to uniquely identify a location, such as 1234 Prospect Lake Rd, Victoria, BC. The location is identified at the center of the map window by a red icon. The zoom level is defined in the Zoom input box, which ranges from 10 and 17 (full zoom).  If the input box is left blank then a zoom factor of 10 is assumed. This feature does not set a BCGS window. Use the Lat/Lon to BCGS input box (if in BC) to define a BCGS region.


Clickable Zoom Feature

All maps can be zoomed in by clicking on a point within the displayed map. A 1:250,000 scale map (e.g. 092P) can be zoomed in to a 1:20,000 scale map (e.g. 092P100) which can be zoomed in to a 1:2,500 scale map (e.g. 092P100123).

Scales larger than 1:20,000 display topographic features such as street names. Holding the mouse over a section of the map shows the BCGS map number of the zoomed map. Clicking on the section displays the zoomed map.


Show Wells

For maps zoomed in beyond 1:5,000 scale, selecting the link Show Wells displays the locations of all the wells within the specified BCGS region. Each well is represented by a blue icon that can be selected to display a link to the detailed well record for that well tag. The well tag number is displayed when the mouse is held over a well icon and clicking on an icon displays a well summary, which includes the owner's name and location information. The accuracy of the well locations ranges from 10 to over 1000 meters. Clicking the well tag number displays a detailed well record from the BC Groundwater Well Database.


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