“Water – Our Limiting Resource” – Towards Sustainable Water Management in the Okanagan


Call to Action

“The water resources of the Okanagan Basin are a limited resource that is already heavily allocated to present uses such as agriculture, domestic water supply and maintaining a minimum streamflow for fisheries and other aquatic environment needs.  At present per capita usage rates, the water resources of the basin will be totally allocated in less than 25 years,” stated Brian Guy, Conference Chair.

“Communities that rely on reservoirs or streams are already starting to experience shortages in drought years, and minimum flows in streams are often below conservation levels.  The resource will continue to be subject to increasing demands due to increases in population, and the impacts of climate change.”

“To move toward sustainable water management in the Okanagan Basin requires difficult decisions now that will include reducing demand to new governance models that consider the basin as a whole, and to more pro-active management.”

Conference Overview

Between February 23 and 25, 2005, 180 people gathered in Kelowna to discuss the past, present, and future of water management in the Okanagan. The purpose of the conference was to advance the cause of improved water management in the Okanagan by inviting speakers to lead discussion of the issues, and to conclude by developing a series of practical recommendations for decision-makers.

  • On February 23, the delegates attended a series of technical presentations highlighting water management initiatives underway in the Okanagan.
  • On Thursday, February 24, delegates listened to a series of invited presentations designed to review the state of knowledge of Okanagan water resources and to identify the key water-related issues in the Basin.
  • The February 24 presentations set the stage for the morning of Friday February 25, at which invited speakers focussed on both the challenges facing the Okanagan and possible solutions.
  • On Friday afternoon, participants were divided into five groups, and each group considered the insights and recommendations provided by the conference speakers under one of the following topics: governance; water quality and fish; water supply and demand; information management; and communication and trust building.

The conference was organized by the B.C. Branch of the Canadian Water Resources Association (CWRA).

To Learn More:

To download a copy of the Conference Summary, click here. This presents a set of consensus-based recommendations for follow-up action.

To download a copy of the conference proceedings, click on “Water – Our Limiting Resource” – Towards Sustainable Water Management in the Okanagan.

The papers in this proceedings present a wide range of water-related activities in the Okanagan, update understanding of the state of the basin and future water resource pressures, and discuss the challenges and opportunities for improving water management in the basin. There are several highly relevant papers to water management in the Okanagan. Some are discussion papers, while others present credible data or estimates.