PRESIDENT’S PERSPECTIVE (2015): Flood and Drought. Feast and Famine. What Happened to the Balance?

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Ted van der Gulik reflects on Celebrating Milestones

The Partnership for Water Sustainability in BC (PWSBC) is now five years old as a legal entity. The date of incorporation of the society was November 19, 2010. It seems that we just started yesterday. Five fruitful years have flown by! Another milestone that 2015 marks the third consecutive year that we have partnered with the Irrigation Industry Association of BC to deliver a “sharing & learning” event in conjunction with our AGM.

Ted van der Gulik_Mar-2014_120pIn 2014, at a Victoria venue, PWSBC and IIABC co-hosted “Convening for Action on Vancouver Island:  How Managing Water Now….Will Shape the Future”. The over-arching message was about climate change and visioning how we collectively want the Island to look like in 50 years.  This year’s workshop, titled “Feast and Famine – Solutions and Tools in Response to a Changing Climate in BC”, takes a more direct approach to discussing adaptation and issues regarding climate change in the Lower Mainland.

Water Sustainability Act

As stated in my Presidents Report last year, the Province passed the new Water Sustainability Act in 2014 and is currently working on implementation.  Groundwater will be one of the first initiatives being tackled by the province. It is estimated that 20,000 existing wells will be required to be licensed. While conducting outreach on groundwater with agricultural producers, the Province was requested by the agricultural community to develop a tool that producers could use to determine how much water they should be applying for in an irrigation license. This created a partnership opportunity for PWSBC to make a material difference.


Agriculture Irrigation Licensing Tool

PWSBC has secured funding from the Province, Investment Agriculture Foundation and the Okanagan Basin Water Board to build the agriculture water licensing tool.  This tool will be on-line and will use results from the Agriculture Water Demand Model (AWDM) to allow producers to quickly determine the irrigation needs.  The climate data in the AWDM is now operational for the entire province and this feature will be used to determine irrigation demand on a 500 m gird covering the province.  It is expected that a user can just click on their property and immediately obtain a result on irrigation demand for the property.  This tool is expected to be completed by March 2016.

Agriculture Water Demand Model  

PWSBC is now in year two of a three year agreement with the Ministry of Agriculture to continue delivery of the Agriculture Water Demand Model program. This past year the Shuswap region and portions of the Cariboo have been surveyed to compile the land use inventory information.  The AWDM was also run for the entire Peace River using default cropping values.  A methodology for obtaining the Peace River land use inventory is still being investigated. PWSBC also facilitated the completion of the resurvey of the Okanagan Valley.  One of the major tasks that will be done over the next few years is completing soil data attributes for many of the regions where good soil data is not available.

Water Balance Model

new logo_2009_500pThe Water Balance Model Express continues to expand in application.  Four versions are currently operational: District of North Vancouver, Cowichan Valley Regional District, City of Surrey and Comox Valley Regional District. Next will be the City of Coquitlam. As an outcome of the 2014 Across Canada Workshop Series, PWSBC has partnered with the Pitu’Paq Partnership in Nova Scotia to implement an Atlantic Canada version of the Water Balance Express, Similar to PWSBC, Pitu’Paq is incorporated as a society. Pitu’Paq is unique because it comprises the five local governments and five First Nations of Cape Breton.

In 2016, PWSBC will add a third tool to the family of Water Balance tools. The Expert User Interface will provide enhanced access to the QUALHYMO engine.

Water Conservation Calculator

Extensive upgrades were initiated to the Water Conservation Calculator in 2015.  It is expected that the upgraded tool will be launched sometime in 2016.

A Look Ahead

The Partnership will continue to implement the Water Sustainability Action Plan in 2016 and will look for new opportunities and activities that can help us celebrate our successes and build on Action Plan initiatives such as:

  • Georgia Basin Inter-Regional Education Initiative (IREI)
  • Convening for Action on Vancouver Island initiative (CAVI)
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Success can only be accomplished through the integration of efforts of practitioners including our many partners in the provincial government, local governments and non-profit societies. Our successes are only possible with your support and efforts.


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