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Parks, Recreation & Culture » Sustainable Kamloops » Environmental Sustainability » Land

Agriculture Water Demand Modelling

The City of Kamloops, in partnership with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and the Kamloops Branch of the Ministry of Agriculture and Community Futures Thompson Country, has conducted a water demand modelling exercise and soil analysis for the City’s agricultural land base.

The Agriculture Water Demand Model is a water management planning tool used to provide current and future agriculture water demands for areas within the Agricultural Land Reserve and for areas zoned for agriculture. Crop type, irrigation system type, soil texture and historical climate data are used to calculate current water demands and to project future demands using various climate change scenarios. The model calculates water use on a property-by-property basis, and sums the demand of each property to obtain a total demand for the entire water basin and each sub-basin.

The analysis, completed in May of 2016, will help City administrators and the local agricultural industry better understand opportunities and issues related to agricultural water use and help to fulfil BC’s commitment under the Living Water Strategy to reserve water for agricultural lands.

Some key findings in the report include:

  • Climate change scenarios developed by the University of British Columbia and the Summerland Research and Development Centre predict an increase in agricultural water demand due to warmer and longer summers and lower precipitation during summer months in the future.
  • The total irrigated acreage in Kamloops is 1,265 hectares (ha), including 998 ha (79%) for forage crops (alfalfa, forage corn, grass, legume and pasture). In Kamloops, 883 ha (70%) is supplied by licensed surface water sources, and 383 ha (30%) is irrigated with groundwater.
  • The total annual irrigation demand was 12,033,267 m3 in 2003, and dropped to 6,925,995 m3 in 1997. During a wet year like 1997, the demand was only 58% of a hot dry year like 2003.
  • There is an opportunity to reduce water use by converting irrigation systems to a higher efficiency for some crops. For example, drip systems could be used for all fruit crops, vegetable crops and some of the other horticultural crops. In addition, using better management such as irrigation scheduling techniques will also reduce water use. Using good irrigation management, water demand for 2003 would be reduced from 12,033,267 m3 to 10,622,994 m2 – a 12% reduction.
  • Three climate change models were used in the report. Results show that in an extreme climate scenario, it is possible to have an annual water demand that is 18% higher than what was experienced in 2003 (a hot, dry year). More runs of the climate change models will be required to better estimate a climate change trend for the region.
  • An agricultural irrigated buildout scenario was developed that looked at potential agricultural lands that could be irrigated in the future. Based on the scenario provided for Kamloops, the additional agricultural land that could be irrigated is 2,659 ha, which is an increase in irrigated acreage of 210%.

A full copy of the Agriculture Water Demand Model report is available here. Additional detailed soil information for the City is available with the BC Soil Information Finder Tool at

This project is funded in part by the City of Kamloops, Community Futures Thompson Country, Yellowhead Community Services as well as Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and the BC Ministry of Agriculture through federal-provincial programs delivered by the Investment Agriculture Foundation of BC.

Funding Provided by:

Planning and Development
105 Seymour Street
Kamloops, BC V2C 2C6
ph 250-828-3561
fax 250-828-3848

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