Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Study paints bleak picture of British Columbia's water supply

Kristi Patton in the Penticton Western News (British Columbia): With the lowest per person water supply in Canada and a growing population, there is reason for concern that the Okanagan is running dry. That fact was one of the drivers behind three years of intense research to complete the Okanagan Water Supply and Demand Study. The research supports a finding that water shortages are expected to occur more widely and frequently in the future.

….The Okanagan Basin Water Board and B.C. Ministry of Environment unveiled the results of the study which provides a comprehensive look at water availability in the Okanagan Valley. It also provides a glimpse of how the water supply will be affected by climate change.

The study shows on average, Okanagan residents use 675 litres of water per person, per day — year round, on their residential properties. This is more than twice the Canadian average (329 litres) and much higher than that of other countries. Most of this water is used for outdoor landscaping during the summer months. Only agricultural users record a higher usage of water (55 per cent) in the valley.

Wells said communities also should be building drought plans to be proactive. He warned that if people don’t start thinking ahead about how they use their water, “a drought will certainly get people’s attention, that is for sure.”

…While the Okanagan naturally fluctuates between dry and wet years, changing climate patterns increase the growing season and the demand for irrigation water. A decreasing snowpack — an essential form of water storage — takes a toll on the reservoir and spring runoff…..

The Similkameen River near Keremeos, BC. Shot by doviende, Wikimedia Commons via Flickr, under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Generic license

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