UBC Okanagan researchers are looking for unused wells in the North Okanagan to assist in their research on long-term water sustainability.
UBC Okanagan is a partner in the North Okanagan Groundwater Characterization and Assessment project (NOGWCA). This is a three-year study funded by the Canada-British Columbia Water Supply Expansion program made available through Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC). The project partners include:
- Lead: BC Ministry of Environment: Water Stewardship Division
- Natural Resources Canada: Geological Survey of Canada
- Agriculture Canada
- BC Ministry of Agriculture
- University of British Columbia Okanagan
- Simon Fraser University
- Township of Spallumcheen
- City of Armstrong
- North Okanagan Regional District
"We are particularly looking for deeper wells in the main valley floor area between the north end of Okanagan Lake and the City of Armstrong," says Craig Nichol, Assistant Professor, Hydrogeology, at UBC Okanagan. "We are searching for groundwater wells that are not being pumped at the moment, or are no longer in use. We would like to measure the depth to the water levels in these wells at regular intervals to see how they change over time."
Approximately 30 people have already volunteered their wells throughout the Deep Creek and Fortune Creek watersheds but Nichol says they would like to double this number. Staff from UBC Okanagan and the Ministry of Environment take regular measurements of water levels and stream flows. They have also been conducting water sampling of active wells to help determine the water quality and chemistry of the different aquifers in the area.
"This project is about ensuring the water supply for the North Okanagan for both agriculture and urban use," says Nichol. "The population in the Okanagan Valley is expected to increase considerably over the next 15 years. This increased human demand for water, coupled with agricultural demand and potential climate change impacts, is expected to stress the future water supply in parts of the Valley."
According to Nichol, water resource management in the North Okanagan is complex, with systems originally built to serve an agricultural community now under pressure from urban demand. The hydrology is characterized as highly variable from year to year and susceptible to droughts.
Since 2005, the study has conducted well surveys and water usage surveys, taken water quality samples, measured stream flows, examined the geology of the North Okanagan and studied the aquifer systems that underlie the valley floor. Future water demand scenarios have been considered with projected population growth and climate change.
The next phase of the study will create a groundwater computer model of the Deep Creek and Spallumcheen areas to model current and future water demands. The modeling effort is to be completed in March 2008.
For more information or to sign up for the project, contact Craig Nichol at 250.807.8087 or fellow researcher Adam Wei at 250.807.8750.