Okanagan Basin Water Board Breaks Ground with Toolkit to Help Communities Conserve Water




Topsoil Bylaws Toolkit – new guidance document supports Water Conservation and Rainwater Management in BC

Kelowna, B.C. – The Okanagan Basin Water Board is once again leading the way with  release of the Topsoil Bylaws Toolkit, providing local governments in the Okanagan valley and across B.C. with tools to ensure greater water conservation in our communities.

“Topsoil is not the first thing that comes to people’s minds when we talk about water conservation but it’s the soil that holds the water,” explained Anna Warwick Sears, OBWB’s Executive Director. “We’ve all seen what happens when lawns are rolled out over bare gravel or clay. Residents end up using tremendous amounts of high-quality drinking water on their lawn to keep the grass green. Good soil increases water retention and is an effective tool to manage rainwater and reduce water pollution.”


Changes are Needed

The guide was a joint effort of the OBWB and the Partnership for Water Sustainability in BC, with funding provided by the B.C. Ministry of Community, Sport, and Cultural Development. The Partnership brought expertise in water, soil, and the experiences of local governments in the Lower Mainland. A legal expert developed the policy guidelines and examples. And the OBWB pulled it all together, writing and developing the toolkit.

“With expected population growth and as our climate becomes more variable – with more frequent, heavier storms and longer, hotter drought, wise rainwater management becomes even more important. A well-designed landscape with healthy topsoil helps communities through both wet and dry times,” added Warwick Sears. “Changes are needed. This toolkit can help communities get there.”


Topsoil Makes the Difference

“It’s the soil that makes the difference,” noted Ted van der Gulik, speaking on behalf of the Partnership. He is the senior engineer with the B.C. Ministry of Agriculture and one of the technical advisors on the toolkit.

“A lot of time and effort has gone into creating this document. It contains land-use planning and regulatory tools available to local government, sample policies and bylaws, and more. We’re very excited to be getting this out into the hands of B.C.’s elected officials and local government staff, helping communities in the Okanagan and around the province adopt WaterWise principles to ensure a healthy, sustainable future.”


To Learn More:

In February 2010, the Bowker Creek Forum in Victoria was the venue for the formal launch of the Topsoil Law and Policy and Technical Primer Set. Developed by the Green Infrastructure Partnership, the ‘Topsoil Primer Set’ synthesized the pioneering experience of the City of Surrey, City of Courtenay and District of North Vancouver. The Topsoil Bylaws Toolkit is an evolution of those primers.

The Topsoil Bylaws Toolkit can be found on the OBWB’s website at: http://www.obwb.ca/ and on the waterbucket.ca website on the Guidance Documents page.

The toolkit is a companion to the OBWB’s Groundwater Bylaws Toolkit, released in 2009 and available at www.obwb.ca/groundwater_bylaws_toolkit.

It also supplements the 2007 Green Bylaw Toolkit, created by a number of partners and available at: http://www.greenbylaws.ca/.

To download a copy of the news release by the OBWB, click on Water Board Breaks Ground with Toolkit to Help Communities Conserve Water.