Okanagan Agricultural Water Users Resource Page

Water utilities enact local drought stages based on current weather conditions, weather forecasts, water supply levels, and water demand. Agricultural water users can take many proactive steps during each stage to use water as efficiently as possible, and be ready to respond if drought conditions worsen during a growing season. Many of these tips and resources will also support improved resilience to climate change, which is expected to create warmer and drier summer conditions in the Okanagan.

Water Use Efficiency and Conservation Tips for  Stage Normal  |  Stage 1  |  Stage 2 
(Normal to Very Dry Conditions):

  • Fix irrigation system leaks, check nozzles for uniformity, and program your system to match crop, soil, and climate conditions.
  • Improve irrigation scheduling techniques by using Farmwest.com, soil moisture measurements, and BC’s Irrigation Scheduling Calculator. Knowing how to schedule during non-drought conditions will help you adapt during drought.
  • Use a qualified contractor (IIABC Certified Designer) to evaluate system performance and make improvements, if possible. A list of Certified Irrigation Designers can be found here.
  • Consider a new irrigation system if your existing system is inefficient.
  • Install soil moisture monitoring equipment to minimize water leaching due to overirrigation.
  • (During Stage 2) Minimize irrigation where possible. Consider reducing the irrigated acreage or reducing irrigation to some lesser-value plants.

Additional Tips for  Stage 3  |  Stage 4  
(Extremely Dry to Emergency Conditions):

  • Use soil moisture sensors to ensure irrigation applied is minimal to keep plants alive.
  • Monitor irrigation using meter readings or accurately recording irrigation events and timing.
  • Irrigate only at night.
  • Review the documents at Waterbucket.ca that provide tips on managing crops during drought.
  • (During Stage 4) Water livestock and irrigate only high-value perennial plants to keep them alive.

Water Use Efficiency and Conservation Resources

Irrigation Scheduling Calculator and Users Guides

Irrigation Fact Sheets
Ministry of Agriculture Irrigation Factsheets with information on matching irrigation with soil and crop type and tips to reduce water usage based on crop type/time of year:

This Ministry of Agriculture factsheet (PDF) provides guidelines for using tensiometers, taking into account different types of irrigation systems and soil types. Tensiometers measure the soil water tension that can be related to the soil water content.

Weather Data
Find the weather station nearest you at Farmwest.com.

Livestock Management
For information on livestock watering and on how to plan and construct summer and winter watering systems, see the BC Livestock Watering Handbook.

Drought Management Factsheets
Visit the agricultural and drought webpage on Waterbucket.ca for tips on managing crops during drought or click on the factsheets (PDFs) below.

For Water Use Planning Guidance and Assistance
If you have completed an Environmental Farm Plan, you may be eligible for cost-share support with the creation of an Irrigation Management Plan.

The BC Agriculture and Food Climate Action Initiative is running a pilot project during the (summer/fall 2017) to assist agricultural producers in effectively managing their water supply, water use and drainage needs in an increasingly variable climate. Participating producers will receive a customized Farm Water Use Plan which will include strategies and resources to address your unique water management challenges and help build resilience against uncertain future conditions. Learn more here.

Sustainable Winegrowing BC is developing a series of new resources on water-use efficiency including factsheets and a digital tool to monitor and measure water use. There will also a be a series of field days in August 2017 to showcase novel technologies and practices.

About This Project

This webpage is supporting the Okanagan Agricultural Water Supply Status Communications Pilot Project, a joint effort of the Okanagan Basin Water Board and the BC Agriculture & Food Climate Action Initiative. Funding for this project has been provided in-part by the Governments of Canada and British Columbia through the Investment Agriculture Foundation of BC under Growing Forward 2, a federal-provincial-territorial initiative.

The tips and resources on this page have been developed specifically for agricultural water users. There are several initiatives in the Okanagan basin supporting water conservation efforts for non-agricultural water users. To learn more visit Okwaterwise.ca.