Groundwater Assessment in the Okanagan Basin (GAOB):

The Groundwater Assessment in the Okanagan Basin (GAOB) project is a major partnership initiative to assess and characterize groundwater resources in the Okanagan.  A Steering Committee for the project, which began in the fall of 2003, includes representatives from the Geological Survey of Canada, the Okanagan Basin Water Board and the Ministry of Environment.

GAOB WORKING GROUP: In addition to the Steering Committee, there is a Working Group to oversee the research priorities and directions for the GAOB project and to communicate the research and science outputs from the project to key stakeholders and the public.  Membership of the Working Group includes representatives from the following organizations:

  • Okanagan Basin Water Board
  • Geological Survey of Canada
  • Interior Health Authority
  • BC Ministry of Environment
  • Agriculture Canada
  • Natural Resources Canada’s Sustainable Development
  • Through Knowledge Integration Program
  • Canadian Centre of Excellence for Water
  • Simon Fraser University
  • UBC-Okanagan
  • BC Groundwater Association

This large partnership project will enhance the knowledge of groundwater in this important region of the province and will assist in answering important questions on sustainability and management of the groundwater resources in the Okanagan Basin.

COLLABORATIVE AND RESEARCH DEVELOPMENTS: Since GAOB’s inception in September 2003, the following collaborative and research developments have been initiated/completed:

  • Inventorying, georeferencing and cross-referencing drinking water supplies in the Okanagan Basin;
  • Updating the provincial WELLS database for Okanagan Basin;
  • Collecting and compiling well reports and well logs from irrigation districts, regional, municipal, and city offices in the Okanagan Basin for information on well location, depth, capacity, pumping test data and lithology;
  • Surficial and bedrock geology maps for the northern part of the basin are being compiled and digitized to provide a regional framework for aquifer characterization and groundwater modeling studies;
  • Consulting with local governments in the Okanagan Basin to understand their business needs to direct project research;
  • Development of an educational poster (Waterscape Poster) to reflect key water resource issues in the Okanagan region;
  • Developing a web service site for the project and the project’s working group members;
  • Completing aquifer mapping for those areas not yet mapped;
  • Analyzing available pumping test data to determine hydraulic properties;
  • Completing and analysing slug tests for provincial observations wells in the basin to derive estimates of hydraulic conductivity of aquifer media encountered in the Okanagan region;
  • Completing numerical modelling work in the Okanagan Falls/Oliver area (Skaha Lake to the top of Osoyoos Lake) to look at climate change impacts;
  • The North Okanagan characterization and assessment study will examine the groundwater resources in the North Okanagan and will include numerical modelling in the Deep Creek watershed as well as modelling to understand the groundwater/surface water interactions in this area;
  • Completing nutrient input (geochemical study) and numerical modelling in the Osoyoos area; and
  • Examining groundwater/surface water interactions in different parts of the basin.

EXPECTED OUTCOMES: It is anticipated that the outputs from current and future GAOB associated projects will provide information and data on the following:

  • a quantitative and qualitative assessment of the groundwater resource in the Okanagan Basin including a regional water budget;
  • hydraulic properties and estimations of vulnerability of key aquifers in the Okanagan Basin;
  • an increased understanding of groundwater/surface water interactions in key locations in the Okanagan Basin;
  • the development of an interactive GIS database and numerical models for key Okanagan Basin aquifers and groundwater characteristics as part of the national and provincial databases;
  • greater understanding of the potential impacts of climate change on the groundwater resource in the Okanagan Basin;
  • outreach activities for increasing groundwater awareness of the groundwater resource; and
  • development of a process to incorporate the science-based results into sustainable water management practices for communities in the Okanagan Basin.

To access the Ministry of Environment’s groundwater page, click on this link:

 Posted October 2005