Online tool estimates water usage

Knowing your numbers will help you comply with licensing requirements and improve irrigation practices.

By Judie Steeves I

t’s common for growers to be unaware of exactly how much irrigation water they use, but it’s a question often asked as regulations under the new Water Sustainability Act come into force.

The quantity of water farmers are licensed to use is a figure few pay much attention to, notes Ted van der Gulik of the Partnership for Water Sustainability in B.C., which is working with government to implement the new regulations. Yet it’s a vital figure in terms of complying with licenses, as well as in planning water allocation or in managing water throughout the province, he explains.

To help determine water use, an Agriculture Water Calculator has been created online so every property owner in the province can go to the website, look at the map and zoom in to their own property or properties and learn the amount of water needed to irrigate their land. The information is based on the geographic location of the farm, as well as soil type, crop type and the type of irrigation. Livestock water demand estimates are made for a given number and type of animals. Once you have searched for your property’s address, or zoomed into your property on the map, click on the site to select it. The application will display a preliminary annual irrigation water demand estimate. You can adjust the soil, crop and irrigation parameters to update the estimate for your scenario.

The calculator provides an estimate of peak irrigation flows and annual water demand for irrigation systems in the province. Van der Gulik emphasizes it is an estimate and not a final number.

24 British Columbia FRUIT GROWER • Spring 2017 Screenshot of the B.C. Agriculture Water Calculator’s home page.

He says the information on which the figure is based came from climate models developed by scientists and the data is already being used by water managers.

Although it was developed for farmers, the calculator can be used by residential property-owners as well, and in future, it could be useful in other applications as well, he notes. Some farmers will find that they are over-licensed, while others may find they’re under-licensed.

This new tool at least helps them work out what they need. However, he says some growers don’t even know what their allocation is. Under the new water act, users will need to know both what their allocation of water is, and what they need.

The tool also makes the

information available in either acre- feet per year or cubic metres per year. Access the new tool at:

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