Okanagan Water Flow to be Studied

A lot has changed in the Okanagan since 2010 and since the last major study of the valley’s water supply and demand was completed. As one of Canada’s fastest growing regions, our population has boomed. We’ve weathered droughts and flooding, and last year we experienced both. Thanks to $392,500 through the Federal Gas Tax – B.C. Strategic Priorities Fund, the Okanagan Basin Water Board (OBWB) will complete major update of that study. 

Models will be created to study streamflows in up to 27 of the principle tributaries that enter the Okanagan’s major valley bottom (mainstem) lakes and river systems. Streams that will be studied include Vernon and Whiteman Creeks in the North Okanagan, Mission and Mill Creeks in the Central Okanagan, Trout and Shuttleworth Creeks in the South Okanagan, and others.

"We're going to try to predict how much water is going to come down the streams at different times of the year under different kind of climate conditions," says Anna Warwick Sears, OBWB’s Executive Director. "With all the uncertainty we’ve seen with historic flooding, and extreme drought with low flows in streams, it’s more important than ever to have the best science to estimate streamflow. Local planners and water managers simply cannot rely on historic water patterns and ranges to manage supply any longer. We need to identify the shifts in supply – in snowpack, in rainfall, and reservoir storage – and consider these in flood and drought plans, resource development plans and infrastructure plans," added Sears.

The data will be made available to local governments, Okanagan First Nations and utilities, helping them make water management and future planning decisions to meet the needs of all, including fish, agriculture, and human consumption. It will also be provided to the province to help with water licensing decisions.

The streamflow study is expected to begin in spring 2018 and wrap up by the end of 2019.