The Dirt Makes the Difference




Soil / Water Conservation

“Coming in from the garden this weekend, I went straight to the sink to wash my hands. Carefully turning off the tap while soaping, I readjusted the faucet, and rinsed off the gritty brown lather,” writes Anna Warwick Sears, Executive Director of the Okanagan Basin Water Board (OBWB), in a blog post titled The Dirt Makes the Difference and written in conjunction with release of the Topsoil Bylaws Toolkit by the OBWB and Partnership for Water Sustainability in British Columbia.

“Ironically, it is the dirt, not the act of turning off the tap, that really saves water. Yes, my friends, some of the most effective things for water conservation are not the most intuitive. The soil in our yards and gardens is one of the most powerful forces we have for water conservation and pollution prevention.”

“Deep, rich topsoil is a giant sponge for rain – slowly releasing moisture as the plants grow. With enough good soil, you can have a green lawn and tall tomato plants with very little irrigation.  It is hard to say which is most important: that soil gathers and stores the water (reducing runoff and pollution), or its slow-release to plants (conserving water).”

“It’s an old idea that’s new again. There used to be a whole federal agency in the U.S. that was devoted to soil protection. Franklin D. Roosevelt said – rather dramatically, after watching the devastation of the Dust Bowl – ‘The nation that destroys its soil, destroys itself.’ Yet somehow, decades later, it feels like we are rediscovering topsoil for the 21st Century.”


Topsoil Bylaws Toolkit

A well-designed landscape with healthy topsoil helps communities through both wet and dry times. Developed by an inter-regional partnership led by the Okanagan Basin Water Board, the Topsoil Bylaws Toolkit gives local governments practical tools that support smart topsoil policies. The Toolkit presents basic principles of topsoil science and management. It also provides sample policy and bylaw language.


To Learn More:

To read the complete blog post, click on The Dirt Makes the Difference