August 15, 2016 - 9:00 PM
KELOWNA – Irrigation districts and farmers across Kelowna are reporting significantly less water needed for agriculture this year. And although that doesn’t equate to financial savings, it has put reservoirs in a good position for next year.
Toby Pike at South East Kelowna Irrigation District, one of five that provide water to Kelowna, says even though the district used more than three times the 21-year average amount of water in April, the months since have been much wetter than usual.
“There’s definitely been a wetter than normal season so far,” he says. “April was high demand, but it dropped off quickly after that.”
Pike estimates roughly 80 per cent of the water they supply goes to agriculture, and the rest to residents. April was much drier than usual, May was slightly above average in terms of water usage but roughly 30 per cent less water was used for the month of June compared to the last 21 years.
He hasn’t seen the final number for July but suspects they will be “well below average” as well.
President of the B.C. Fruit Growers Association Fred Steele says his orchards have used around ten per cent less water so far this year than he normally would.
“I know I’ve used less,” he says. “I’ve backed off considerably but I don’t know if I’m going to use that back up with the heat that’s coming. It’s too soon to tell.”
Although some farmers and orchardists who pay for water are grateful for the break, water suppliers notice little benefit from increased rain.
"Our systems a gravity fed and gravity is still free,” he says. “We use less chlorine but there really is no monetary benefit… it puts us in a better position to deal with a drought next year."
"There’s never enough water to waste.”
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