Author Archives: Partnership for Water Sustainability

  1. FACT SHEETS FOR AGRICULTURE: Partnership for Water Sustainability assists governments of Canada and British Columbia to develop guidance documents for water licensing and storage (January 2022)

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    Guidance on Farm Water Storage

    Water storage is often promoted as a solution to water supply shortages due to climate change.  While storage may often be a solution, there are issues that need to be addressed to determine if a storage facility will be viable.  These can include regulations and licensing, facility location and options, purpose of use and storage size.

    To Learn More:

    Download a copy of Guidance on Farm Water Storage.

    Water Licences for Agriculture

    The implementation of groundwater licensing into the Water Sustainability Act raised many questions regarding dugouts, dug wells and other infrastructure with respect to licensing.  The agriculture licensing factsheet is intended to provide clarity to agriculture producers on the licensing requirements.

    To Learn More:

    Download a copy of Water Licences for Agriculture.


    BUDGET CONSULTATION 2022: Partnership for Water Sustainability issues a “Call for Action” by the Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services to rectify a chaotic situation, provide a dedicated budget, and get groundwater licensing implementation back on track in British Columbia (October 2021)

    On October 5, 2021, the Partnership for Water Sustainability in BC’s weekly Waterbucket eNews featured groundwater licensing for the second time in three editions because it is fundamental to water management in BC. Leadership and commitment at the highest levels of government have been missing in action during the 6-year transition period for implementation. Consequently, the lack of groundwater licensing is a looming crisis with far-reaching ramifications for the BC economy.

    The purpose in featuring groundwater licensing twice within three weeks was to draw attention to the presentation by Partnership President Ted van der Gulik to the Select Standing Committee on Government Finance on September 30, 2021. He laid out a How-To-Framework for a 10-year plan of action to get groundwater licensing back on track.

    The Partnership’s Ted van der Gulik made the case for a total investment of $300 million when he explained the situation to the Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services. His presentation on September 30, 2021 was the last of 300 in-person presentations to the committee as part of its Budget 2022 Consultation process.

    To Learn More:



  2. ACCESS AND DOWNLOAD A SET OF REPORTS ON: British Columbia’s Agriculture Water Demand Model – learn about province-wide application and results

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    An Okanagan Basin Water Strategy was initiated by Land and Water British Columbia in 2004 in response to significant pressures being exerted on the water resources in the basin.

    The Agricultural Water Demand Model was developed to provide current and future agriculture water demands for the Okanagan Basin. Success of the project included assistance from the following:

    Agriculture and Agri-food Canada
    Environment Canada
    Ministry of Agriculture and Lands
    Okanagan Basin Water Board
    University of Lethbridge

    The model is based on a GIS database that contains information on cropping, irrigation system type, soils type and climatic data.

    The survey area included all properties within the Agricultural Land Reserve and those occurring outside the ALR where there is active agriculture.

    Ag water demand model - okanagan basin


    View the  Report for the Okanagan Basin  funded by the following:

    Canada-British Columbia Water Supply Expansion Program

    Okanagan Basin Water Board


    As well, we now have reports available in PDF format on the following areas of British Columbia:

    Report for the Nicola Watershed

    Report for the Kettle Watershed

    Report for the Similkameen Watershed

    Report for Metro Vancouver

    Report for the Cowichan Valley

    Report for the Regional District of Nanaimo

    Report for the Bonaparte Watershed

    Report for the North Thompson

    Report for the Comox Valley Regional District

    Report for the Regional District of Fraser Valley

    Report for the City of Kamloops

    Report for the Regional District of Central Kootenay

    Report for Sunshine Coast Regional District

    Report for qathet Regional District







  3. OP-ED ARTICLE: Kim Stephens – Celebrating a decade of living water smart in B.C., but where to from here? (published in the Vancouver Sun in June 2018)

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    Note to Reader:

    On Saturday, June 2nd 2018, the Vancouver Sun newspaper published an op-ed article co-authored by four members of the Partnership for Water Sustainability’s leadership team, namely: Kim Stephens, Ted van der Gulik, Tim Pringle and Peter Law. The article is reproduced below.

    In 2008, the Living Water Smart program called British Columbians to action to create greener communities and prepare for climate change 

    Water defines British Columbia, and the rhythms of water are changing – winters are wetter and warmer; summers are longer and drier. Flood, drought, fire, wind and cold – extreme events are the New Normal. We are at a tipping point. When will communities adapt, and how?

    In 2008, “Living Water Smart, British Columbia’s Water Plan” was the Province’s call to action, and to this day transcends governments. The vision:

    “We take care of our water, our water takes care of us.”

    “On the 10th anniversary of its release, we celebrate transformational initiatives set in motion by Living Water Smart,” wrote the four co-authors.

    Collaboration in the Local Government Setting

    The hard work of hope has resulted in a policy, program and regulatory framework that enables community-based action to adapt to the New Normal. Living Water Smart successes are defined by collaboration and a “top-down / bottom-up” approach. This brings together decision-makers and community advocates.

    “While legislative reform is a foundation piece, collaboration takes place outside the legislative framework,” Lynn Kriwoken stated in 2008. An Executive Director in the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change, she personifies continuity, commitment and leadership in bringing the Living Water Smart vision to fruition.

    “This is why we constantly emphasize that Living Water Smart is about motivating and inspiring everyone to embrace shared responsibility. Influencing behaviour and attitudes is at the heart of moving from awareness to action,” added Kriwoken.

    Game-Changers Flowing from ‘Living Water Smart’

    The legislative piece is the Water Sustainability Act, one of several game-changers. A historic achievement, the Act recognizes the connections between land and water – what happens on the land matters!

    What Makes a Stream Healthy:

    In Living Water Smart, the lynch-pin statement is:

    “All land and water managers will know what makes a stream healthy, and therefore be able to help land and water users factor in new approaches to securing stream health and the full range of stream benefits”.

    This vision statement guides the work of the Partnership for Water Sustainability, the hub for a “convening for action” network in the local government setting. The Partnership collaborates with the province, local governments, stewardship sector and First Nations to develop and mainstream approaches, tools and resources that advance “design with nature” outcomes.

    Strategic Direction for Local Government:

    Another game-changer flowing from Living Water Smart is “Asset Management for Sustainable Service Delivery: A BC Framework”. Led by Asset Management BC, the BC Framework sets a strategic direction for local government service delivery. It refocuses business processes on how physical and natural assets are used to deliver services, and support outcomes that reduce life-cycle costs and address risks.

    Sustainable service delivery by local government occurs alongside associated evolution in community thinking. By managing the built and natural environments as integrated systems, local governments would incrementally move towards a water-resilient future as an outcome.

    Value of Ecological Services:

    Hydrology is the engine that powers ecological services. Thus, integration of the Partnership’s work within the BC Framework should accelerate implementation of the whole-system, water balance approach at the heart of the Partnership’s “Sustainable Watershed Systems, through Asset Management” program.

    A pillar of Sustainable Watershed Systems is the Ecological Accounting Process. EAP establishes what the definable benefits of ecological services derived from creekshed hydrology are, what they may be worth to stakeholders, and how they may be maintained and enhanced. EAP has the potential to transform how communities make decisions about creekshed restoration.

    Water & Food Security:

    Yet another game-changer flowing from Living Water Smart is the B.C. Agricultural Water Demand Model. It accounts for climate change, is applied to establish future needs for Agricultural Water Reserves, and is the engine for the online B.C. Agriculture Water Licence Calculator. Developed to support implementation of the B.C. Groundwater Regulation, the Calculator quantifies outdoor water use for any property in B.C., including residential.

    Call to Action

    B.C. communities can adapt to the New Normal. They can create a water-resilient future where flood and drought risks are reduced. As a result of initiatives inspired by Living Water Smart, we have tools and experience to “get it right”. So, through collaboration and commitment, together let’s make it happen – sooner, not later!


  4. OP-ED ARTICLE: More irrigation is key to food security in B.C. (published in the Vancouver Sun in November 2017)

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    Note to Reader:

    On November 18, 2017 the Vancouver Sun newspaper published an opinion piece co-authored by Kim Stephens, Ted van der Gulik and Fin Donnelly. The article foreshadowed aspects of what would be addressed at the Blue Ecology Workshop on November 28, 2017.

    The article weaved three themes and two perspectives (environmental and agricultural) into a seamless storyline: watershed health, climate change and food security.

    Ted van der Gulik is president and Kim Stephens is executive director of Partnership for Water Sustainability in B.C. Fin Donnelly is the member of Parliament representing Port Moody-Coquitlam and is founder of the Rivershed Society of B.C.

    The Fraser River, Climate Change and Food Security

    “Home to two-thirds of British Columbians, the mighty Fraser River is the lifeblood of a vast watershed that stretches from the Rockies to the Pacific.  The lower Fraser Valley, one of the most productive agricultural regions in Canada, is vital to BC’s long-term food security,” stated the co-authors in their opening paragraph.

    “No longer is climate change a future scenario. It is here. At the mouth of the Fraser, the consequences of summer droughts and rising sea levels combine to impact river water quality while at the same time increasing the need for irrigation water.

    “The critical issue, or impact, is the salt wedge and the shrinking window of opportunity for pumping fresh water from the Fraser River. This is a double whammy for agriculture.”


    To read the entire Op-Ed, click on Opinion: Increase irrigated land area to attain food security in B.C. to download a PDF copy of the online version.

    Scenic view of the Heart of the Fraser River. (Photo Credit: Graham Osborne / PNG)

  5. Water Licensing Calculator: Managing Water as One Resource in British Columbia

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    TEST DRIVE IT! The Water Licensing Calculator is available at

    TEST DRIVE IT! The Water Licensing Calculator is available at

    Note to Reader:

    Passed by the British Columbia Legislature in Spring 2014, the Water Sustainability Act and new regulations were brought into effect on February 29, 2016. The Act is a game-changer because it recognizes the connection between land use actions and the implications for the both the water cycle and watershed sustainability.

    This means the Act will have widespread impacts on how water and land practitioners conduct their work. New groundwater licensing requirements are now in effect and apply to all existing and future non-domestic wells. The Partnership for Water Sustainability in BC is assisting the Province with implementation and developed the BC Agriculture Water Calculator, an online tool.

    Water-Calculator_screen shot

    Licensing Groundwater Use under British Columbia’s new Water Sustainability Act

    Greg Tyson_MOE_2016_120p“In British Columbia, surface and groundwater are now managed under the same regulatory system,” states Greg Tyson, Water Policy Advisor with the BC Ministry of Environment. “Effective February 29, 2016 all non-domestic users of groundwater are required to obtain a licence to withdraw and use water from wells. This means that about 20,000 existing non-domestic well owners, including those in the agriculture sector, must now apply for a licence.”

    Context for Calculator Development

    “Licensing 20,000 wells initially seemed daunting when a provincial group met in mid-2015 to brainstorm an approach to this immense task. The team had to solve the challenge of HOW to help groundwater users reliably quantify their annual water licence volumes. Suffice to say, the brainstorming resulted in an Aha Moment and a solution took shape,” recalls Ted van der Gulik, Partnership President.

    Ted van der Gulik_2014_Premier's Awards1_120pPrior to retiring from government, he was the Senior Engineer in the BC Ministry of Agriculture, and is the champion responsible for province-wide implementation of the Agriculture Water Demand Model (AWDM).  His history of innovation and his ability to connect dots made it possible to fast-track development of the BC Agriculture Water Calculator. This online tool enables water licensing for all irrigation purposes, whether agricultural or landscape.

    Nature of the Innovation

    “The calculator works for any and all properties in the province,” continues Ted van der Gulik.  “Just go to the website, type an address, and zoom in on that property.  It is that easy. The tool then instantly generates both the annual water demand and the peak irrigation flow rate for the property selected.”

    “The innovation is in how we utilized the Agriculture Water Demand Model (AWDM) to generate the database for the Water Calculator.  The AWDM incorporates a climate database for the entire province. This data is on a 500-metre grid. That is an incredibly fine scale of detail.”

    “Integration with the AWDM results in consistent and reliable annual volumes for licence requests. This is the key. It then allows the Province to assess the acceptability of licence requests versus water resource availability and sustainability,” notes Ted van der Gulik.

    Who Funded Calculator Development

    The three funders are the Investment Agriculture Foundation of British Columbia (IAF), BC Ministry of Environment, and the Okanagan Basin Water Board (OBWB). The Partnership for Water Sustainability in BC is providing in-kind support and is the entity of record for the tool.

    The OBWB has also provided substantial in-kind support toward tool development. The Water Licence Calculator is compatible with the BC Water Use Reporting Centre (BCWURC) tools developed in partnership with the BC Ministry of Agriculture. The Water Use Reporting Tool will help producers report water use when this regulation comes into force.


    Right-Size Licence Requests

    Anna Warwick Sears_2015_trimmed_120p“Agricultural users need water licences that are big enough to get through droughts, longer growing seasons from climate change, and changes in crop types to respond to market demand,” notes Anna Warwick Sears, Executive Director, Okanagan Basin Water Board.

    “At the same time, they don’t want the unnecessary licence costs of having them oversized. The Agricultural Water Licensing Calculator lets farmers right-size their licence requests – it’s fast, it’s easy, and they can get on board with the new Water Sustainability Act.”

    A Look Ahead

    “Agriculture is a big water user in BC. The Province sees a lot of value in the calculator for water licence holders and for provincial water managers. The tool will help provincial water managers assess the water requirements of users and enable us to better manage BC’s water resources in collaboration with the agriculture sector,”  concludes Greg Tyson.

    To Learn More:

    Download Licensing Groundwater Use Under British Columbia Water Sustainability Act

    MOE requirements_Feb2016