Category:

Water Conservation News

DROUGHTS AFFECT ALL OF US: “A generation ago, water supply managers could reasonably anticipate that three months of water storage would be sufficient to maintain supply during a dry summer. Today, however, a 6-month drought is a very real likelihood,” stated Kim Stephens, Executive Director, Partnership for Water Sustainability in BC (July 2021)


“Climate change has aggravated an existing vulnerability related to seasonal supply of water in BC. Over time, the safety factor has been shrinking. While it rains a lot in BC, we do not have an abundance of supply when demand is greatest. In addition, the mountainous nature of BC’s geography means that BC communities are typically storage-constrained, and what storage they do have is measured in weeks to months. As of 2015, we clearly crossed an invisible threshold into a different hydrometeorological regime in Western North America,” stated Kim Stephens.

Read Article

OUTDOOR WATER USE IN BALANCE WITH A CHANGING WATER CYCLE: “Local governments in three regions – Okanagan, Fraser Valley and Vancouver Island – are collaborating with the Partnership for Water Sustainability to operationalize the BC Landscape Water Calculator. This new online tool helps homeowners design water efficient yards and gardens,” stated Ted van Gulik


“The power of the BC Landscape Water Calculator is that it is linked to a provincial 500 metre gridded climate dataset that was built for the Agricultural Water Demand Model. This is what establishes the allowable water budget for each and every property in British Columbia. The allowable water budget is a real number. It is based on average climate data for the period 2000 through 2010 for the active growing season. This establishes a location-specific performance target for landscape design. Users then test various combinations of plant types and irrigation systems to determine their total landscape water need,” stated Ted van der Gulik.

Read Article

“A Water Conservation Plan is a mandatory document in order to apply for an infrastructure grant. The Ministry requires that local governments include both an assessment of what their successes have been, and a look ahead as to where their plans are going next,” stated Brian Bedford, Executive Director, Ministry of Municipal Affairs & Housing


“Going back to the mid-2000s, the Province recognized the need to encourage better water conservation by water users and water purveyors in BC. The question was – what policy levers were available to help make that change, and what would incentivize it? And so, the Ministry found an opportunity to align provincial grant programs with water conservation targets. The Ministry defined the Water Conservation Condition as the contractual mechanism of choice. It is written into all contracts for infrastructure grants as a requirement,” stated Brian Bedford.

Read Article

BRITISH COLUMBIA’S DROUGHT RESPONSE PLAN / 2021 UPDATE: “Expanding the existing drought levels from a four to six-level scale more accurately describes stream flow drought and water scarcity conditions in B.C,” stated Julia Berardinucci, Director of Water Strategies and Conservation, Ministry of Environment and Climate Change (May 2021)


“Drought severity in B.C. has previously been communicated through four ‘drought levels’. These categories are broad. Desired outcomes in going to a 6-level system include better understanding of current conditions, advance warning of extreme drought, and better alignment with other jurisdictions in North America. A new ‘severely dry’ level would signify a severe state of drought, and a new ‘exceptionally dry’ level would be used to identify drought conditions that are at or near historical lows,” stated Julia Berardinucci.

Read Article

LOOMING GROUNDWATER LICENSING DEADLINE IN BRITISH COLUMBIA: “As deadline looms, thousands of BC groundwater users risk losing access to water, but not most water bottling, fracking and mining companies,” wrote resource analyst Ben Parfitt after doing investigative research into who has applied, and who has not (May 2021)


“If the March 2022 deadline passes and thousands of (historical) groundwater users fail to apply, there could be big trouble ahead for the government and groundwater users alike. If existing historical users—some of whom can trace their use of specific water wells back generations—fail to apply before the deadline, they will find themselves in the same queue along with new entrants, creating a regulatory nightmare for the government and water users alike. Barring a massive surge in applications thousands of groundwater users could risk losing their access to water in less than a year,” wrote Ben Parfitt.

Read Article

FLASHBACK TO 2004: “The vision for the waterbucket.ca website is to provide a resource rich ‘destination location’ for water sustainability in British Columbia,” stated Mike Tanner, Waterbucket Chair, at the Penticton Drought Forum hosted by the Province of British Columbia (July 2004)


“Integrated water management involves consideration of land, water, air and living organisms – including humans – as well as the interactions among them. Through partnerships, the Water Sustainability Action Plan is promoting the watershed as a fundamental planning unit. The waterbucket.ca will connect all six Action Plan Elements to provide the complete story on integrated water management – why, what, where and how – and is the key to the communication strategy for the Action Plan,” stated Mike Tanner.

Read Article

ADAPTING TO THE NEW REALITY OF LONGER, DRIER SUMMERS: Unlike other regions and countries, the water supply challenge in British Columbia’s mountainous environment is that seasonal water storage potential is limited – such that there is little margin for operational error even though our droughts are measured in months rather than years!


“Drought severity in B.C. is currently communicated through four “drought levels”. Because these categories are broad, it makes it difficult to communicate moderate levels of drought, worsening drought conditions over time, or when regions are experiencing abnormal water scarcity. Desired outcomes in going to a 6-level system include better understanding of current conditions, advance warning of extreme drought, and better alignment with other jurisdictions in North America,” stated Julia Berardinucci.

Read Article

ACHIEVING WATER BALANCE: “If communities are vulnerable on the IN side of the Water Balance equation, then it would make sense to build in resiliency on the OUT side,” stated Kim Stephens when he connected the dots between the 2005 Penticton Workshop and the BC Landscape Water Calculator


“Because many factors are in play within the Water OUT = Water IN equation, an over-arching goal for sustainable water supply management would be to build in resiliency that addresses risk. There is no silver bullet. Communities need to do many little things. Over time the cumulative benefits of doing many things do add up. Consider, for example, the role of soil depth in reducing water need and preventing water runoff. To adapt to a changing water cycle, soil depth as an absorbent sponge is a primary water management tool,” stated Kim Stephens.

Read Article

ADAPTING TO THE NEW REALITY OF LONGER, DRIER SUMMERS: Unlike other regions and countries, the water supply challenge in British Columbia’s mountainous environment is that seasonal water storage potential is limited – such that there is little margin for operational error even though our droughts are measured in months rather than years!


“Consider our recent experience. For five straight years, from 2015 through 2019, British Columbia repeatedly dodged a bullet due to the new reality of longer, drier summers. 2020 was different. It was a wet year. This is why we must not be lulled as we emerge from winter and look ahead to summer. Once upon a time, a 5-month drought was considered possible but unlikely. And then it happened. A 6-month drought was considered improbable in the rain forest. And then it too happened – in 2015. In the big picture of water demand, our water supply lakes and reservoirs are mere puddles,” stated Kim Stephens.

Read Article

FLASHBACK T0 2005: “People have no difficulty reconciling personal long-term and short-term decisions, yet are challenged when it comes to reconciling short-term political versus long-term community planning decisions,” stated Robert Hicks, Metro Vancouver Senior Engineer, at the Penticton Workshop that launched the Convening for Action in British Columbia initiative


“The solutions to short-term risks are long-term: it is a continuum. In my presentation I explained why commitment to the long-term is so important. And I elaborated on the differences in approaches between short-term and long-term visions, and why we need to understand these differences. A key message revolved around the importance of lingo in communicating with decision-makers, and how messages can easily be lost in translation when language is not used effectively,” stated Robert Hicks.

Read Article