Water Supply & Demand Project

Water Supply & Demand Project

Okanagan Basin

There are many compelling reasons to study water supply and demand in the Okanagan Basin:

  • All life needs water to survive – plants and animals
  • Our communities are connected by the lakes, the streams, even the water that flows underground
  • Our economy and the health of those in our region are affected by shortages and pollution
  • We can only use what is replenished

About the Project
In 2010, the Okanagan Basin Water Board (OBWB) released a report on its Water Supply and Demand (WSD) Project – the most advanced water resource assessment ever conducted in Canada at the time, to estimate Okanagan water availability, taking into account climate change and population growth.

The Project included studies on groundwater, stream-flows, environmental water needs, and water use – balancing water supplies and water demands through a computer accounting model, and used data from 2006 to 2009.

Since then, between 2015 and 2018, the Water Board conducted additional research to increase the accuracy of the estimate for residential water use, compiling water meter data from communities in the North, Central and South Okanagan, to determine where Okanagan water is used and when.

A final report was drafted in 2019. Among its findings:

The average Okanagan household uses 1,032 litres of water each day.

The Okanagan Water Supply and Demand Project seeks to answer these questions:

  • Is our water over-allocated?
  • How do we protect groundwater?
  • How will we share during shortages?
  • How do we reduce risks to water quality?
  • How can we be more water efficient?
  • How much water do we have?
  • What does the future hold?
Okanagan Basin Water Cycle (click to enlarge)

Why study the Okanagan Basin?
The Okanagan has the lowest per person water supply in Canada. (Source: Statistics Canada, Human Activity and the Environment: Annual Statistics 2003. Catalogue no. 16-201-XIE, p. 8.) It also has one of the fastest growing populations in Canada and, like elsewhere, is vulnerable to climate change.

Our economy, and in particular, major industries such as agriculture and tourism, depend on the health of our water resources. Prior to the 2010 WSD project, the last comprehensive water assessment in the Okanagan was completed in 1974. Since then, population growth has outstripped all predictions and our water management technologies have greatly improved.

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