Agricultural water supply

Home > City Services > Water & wastewater > City Water Utility > Agricultural water supply

The agriculture community, and subsequent irrigation practices, have played a significant role in the development of Utility services and the City is committed to supporting a sustainable future for this industry.

Agricultural irrigation is predominantly sourced by non-potable water supply in Southeast Kelowna and by potable water throughout the remainder of the Kelowna utility.

To receive regular updates regarding water supply conditions, water quality updates, irrigation turn-on and turn-off dates, and general information related to irrigation services, please enroll in the e-subscribe system.

E-Subscribe Updates

Irrigation Allotment

The irrigation allotment is equal to 2,772 m3 per acre of irrigated area.

A statement of allotment can be found on your utility bill or by logging into your utility billing account.

At the end of each irrigation season, metered consumption is compared to designated allotment for each property. If the consumption in the current year does not exceed the property allotment, no additional charge are applied. If the consumption exceeds the allotment, consumption over the allotment is subject to the tiered rates. 

Tier A0-19.99%$0.30/m3
Tier B20-49.99%$0.60/m3
Tier COver 50%$1.00/m3

For those properties that have had a cellular endpoint upgraded with the water meter, up to date water consumption is available through enrollment in a free on-line EyeOnWater account.

We read the irrigation meters several times throughout the season, with consumption information available on bi-monthly utility bills, or by logging on to the City’s online billing portal. For further information on billing and restrictions you can also refer to the City’s Water Regulation Bylaw No.10480.

Irrigation water restrictions
StageNormalStage 1Stage 2Stage 3Stage 4
Crop IrrigationMax water use permitted as per water allotment for season10% reduction of total annual allotment20% reduction of total annual allotment35% reduction of total annual allotmentOutdoor water use prohibited except for livestock & minimal maintenance of perennial fruit trees

 

Farm Status

To qualify for agricultural water rates, properties must be classified as having farm or developing farm status as defined by the BC Assessment Act. Properties with farm status will be billed $120/per acre irrigation for the 2021 calendar year with a minimum charge of $120 for properties smaller than 1 acre. 

Farm status must be renewed every year to maintain your irrigation water rates. 

Potable vs. non-potable water
  • Potable - is water that meets Canadian drinking water guidelines.
  • Non-Potable - is water that meets crop irrigation and livestock provincial guidelines, however does not meet Canadian drinking water guidelines and should not be used by humans for drinking.
Irrigation Season
Irrigation Turn-on

The agricultural irrigation water turn-ons will start in the beginning of April (weather permitting). Turn-ons will be complete for the start of the irrigation season and will include installed non-potable small irrigation services (SIS) throughout the City. We will be marking irrigation services with flags as we turn them on.

  • Green flag – everything is running and water service has been turned on.
  • Red flag – something is not functioning correctly and water service has not been turned on. 
Irrigation Turn-off

The agricultural irrigation water turn-offs will start in the middle of October (weather permitting). Turn-offs will include all installed non-potable SIS throughout the City. We will be marking irrigation services with flags as we turn them off.

  • Blue Flag – water service is winterized and has been turned off.
  • Yellow Flag – something is not functioning correctly and water service has not been turned off.
Early and late turn-on/off requests

If you would like to request an early or late irrigation water turn-on/off to be scheduled, weather permitting, please call the Utility Billing office at 250-469-8757 from Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., or by submitting a service request. If approved, a $35 fee will be applied to your account to accommodate the request.

If there is a significant risk of freezing temperatures during the early or late turn-on period, the request will be denied. The owner will responsible for all water system damages attributed to temperature.

Isolation valves

Both new and longtime residents with metered irrigation connections have an obligation to maintain their private irrigation systems. You’re responsible for maintaining and renewing all works from your isolation valve.

Water service will not be turned on to any property with a leaky or defective isolation valve. If the City is called to shut down a service for any reason, the service will not be turned back on until the isolation valve is fully functional. A blowout port next to the isolation valve also allows the owner to shut down and winterize their system in the fall without damage to City infrastructure, and without needing the City to shut down the main service to the property.

Winterization

During irrigation turn-offs the City will turn-off the irrigation supply and close the isolation valve. The homeowners are responsible for ensuring the isolation valve is in the open position once their irrigation system has been winterized. If the valve is left closed damage may occur and this will result in the water service not being turned on in the spring until the homeowner has replaced the valve.

Meter Replacement Project

The City has replaced over 50% of the existing SEK agricultural meters in 2021 with new ultrasonic meters and cellular endpoints. The remaining meters will be replaced in 2022.  Those properties having received a new meter and endpoint will be notified by means of a letter informing of the upgrade and potential enrollment in Eye-on-Water for water use monitoring and leak detection.

Ownership

All water meters will be supplied by the City and remain property of the City. The property owner is responsible to provide adequate protection from freezing, heat and other conditions that may cause damage.

Additional resources
Water quality

The former SEKID water system is now a dedicated non-potable water system, with the intent of only suppling properties with outdoor irrigation and not for household use. Due to the change in use, the water quality guidelines are drastically different from those of Drinking Water Guidelines. There are multiple guiding documents that outline water quality for crop irrigation and livestock water systems. We have amalgamated these documents into one table, providing a general guide to the non-potable water quality parameters.

Irrigation best practices

Efficient water use can help save water and reduce irrigation costs, the province has created a an irrigation management guide to help provide the best irrigation management practices available for todays environment.

Soil moisture sensors and irrigation controllers

Water is not an unlimited resource and living in the Okanagan we can see flooding in the spring and drought conditions in the summer within the same year. Coupled with climate change, water availability is only going to decrease in the Okanagan in the future. This is why efficient water use is integral to the continued success of our agricultural sector in Kelowna.

Soil moisture sensors can help by guiding efficient irrigation decisions based on the moisture content in a crops soil. Measuring soil moisture can help save water but can also help crop yields, reduce fertilizer dependency and improve crop quality. There are a variety of soil moisture sensors on the market some of the common types are Tensiometers, Granular Matrix Sensors, Time Domain Reflectometry, Frequency Domain Reflectometry and VH400 Soil Moisture Sensor. A simple review of the options can be found in the journal article Application of Soil Moisture Sensors in Agriculture: A Review.

Irrigation controllers are another example of technical equipment that can aid in optimizing water usage and crop health. Controllers installed on irrigation equipment can help provide more consistent irrigation to all areas on your property and help conserve water ensuring your allotment lasts the whole season. A basic option is a battery operated inline controller that has a digital timer which can be set to open and close a solenoid allowing for timed irrigation at the optimal timing during the day.

Agricultural irrigation assessments

To help optimize your water usage please see the Province's Irrigation System Assessment Guide.

Grants, funding and programs

There are a variety of programs and initiatives available to support the agricultural industry, the agriculture and seafood programs and the 2021 wildfire and drought AgriRecovery initiative are just two that are available through the province.