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New Water Use Reporting System Proposed

Okanagan pilot project holds promise for province-wide water-use management

A new water use reporting system proposed to provincial government this week offers strong promise for more effectively managing water use in British Columbia.

Four years ago a project was launched to create a new system to meet water use reporting needs in the Okanagan. The Okanagan Basin Water Board created the B.C. Water Use Reporting Centre, a web-based reporting system.

The system was built for use in the Okanagan as a pilot. The thought was that the system could eventually be a way for the province to improve water management through water-use reporting.

Nelson Jatel of the Okanagan Basin Water Board says the reporting of licensed water use in B.C. is currently ineffective. He says the new system would allow information on major groundwater and surface water extraction to be gathered efficiently from all over BC.

The software also allows utilities and others involved in water management to use the data for planning and managing the resource.

The full proposal is for a new B.C. water commission to streamline water use reporting and connect water license rental fees with water management needs.

While the Okanagan Basin Water Board has been engaged in discussions with the province on the system for some time, this is the first time that a formal proposal has been made to Steve Thomson, B.C. Minister of Forest, Land and Natural Resource Operations and Mary Polak, Minister of Environment.

Michelle-Cook-webMichelle Cook, an Urban Systems water resource planner and community consultant has been involved with the pilot since the get go. She is also consulting on the pilot of the same system in Nanaimo.

It’s a noteworthy time for the more formal push, Michelle says. The B.C.’s Water Sustainability Act has just passed its third reading, is expected to receive Royal Assent soon and come into force after April 2015.

“One fundamental idea behind building this system was that it could fulfill one of the needs of the new Water Sustainability Act,” she says.

Michelle is also working with a partnership between the B.C. Water Use Reporting Centre and the Ministry of Agriculture to provide a tool for water use reporting by farmers. Water use related to agriculture is also a core component of the act. A pilot of this project is slated to roll out in the next few months.

As a young professional, Michelle feels privileged to be engaged in water and watershed management as well as watershed governance projects. She sees great potential for creating or improving regulations on these fronts, both in B.C. and across the country.

She also sees great opportunity to continue working with municipalities, as “the people on the ground who get things done,” to help them access and make use of tools such as the water use reporting system.

To learn more about the proposal from the Okanagan Basin Water Board, click here.

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