Water Smart

Our Water Smart program focuses on empowering residents to make positive water use choices. We provide residents with important information to help them make positive water use choices in both indoor and outdoor settings.

The Okanagan has one of the highest rates of water use per person in Canada. Watering household lawns and gardens accounts for approximately 24 per cent of water used in the Okanagan. Even a small change can make a huge impact. Be sure to take the pledge to Make Water Work!

We’re part of the Okanagan Basin Water Board

The Okanagan Basin Water Board (OBWB) is a joint community venture to help encourage Okanagan Valley residents to be Water Smart. As our valley can be a dry one, it’s important to protect and conserve the water we have.


How you can be Water Smart 

Conserve water outdoors

A large focus of our Water Smart program is ensuring that landscaping water is being used as efficiently as possible. FREE Water Smart irrigation assessments are available to City Water Utility customers. These assessments assist residents in understanding water use and improving irrigation systems.


To learn more about maximining the effectiveness of your irrigation system and landscape design, visit our dedicated website pages:


There are numerous steps you can take to conserve water outdoors:

Be aware of watering restrictions & peak demand

Year-round watering restrictions are in place for all Kelowna residents. Learn more about water restrictions and check with your water provider for current conditions and updates.

Peak demand is when water use is at its highest. Peak demand generally occurs at the end of July and the beginning of August. The water distribution system has to be sized to meet this demand even though it occurs for only a few weeks in the summer. Reducing our peak demand means water savings and cost savings for all customers.

Collect and use rainwater

Rain barrels are available at your local garden centres. Use them to collect rain water that can be used for container plants, flower beds and food gardens.

Care for your lawn

Treat your lawn well by:

  • Letting it grow: Let your grass grow to a height of 2.5 inches. Taller grass shades new growth and reduces evaporation. You can also leave the grass clippings on the lawn. 
  • Sharpening your blade: Keep the blades of your mower sharp. Dull blades tear the grass leaving it open to disease and heat stress.
  • Over-seeding: Introduce a mix of drought-tolerant fescue grasses to your existing turf. Over-seeding should be done while fertilizing, top-dressing or aerating.
Hire a qualified contractor

Make sure that you hire a landscape or irrigation contractor that has:

  • Adequate insurance, including current Workers' Compensation Board coverage and liability insurance
  • A City of Kelowna business license

To determine the capabilities of a landscape or irrigation contractor, ask for:

  • At least two references
  • Information regarding their training, qualifications and years of experience.
    • We’re now a WaterSense partner and offer a locally focused training program called Qualified Water Efficient Landscaper certification (QWEL). The QWEL section on this page contains more information about the certification.

Conserve water indoors 

There are two ways to reduce indoor water use: change your behaviour and change your appliances that use water. 

Changing your behaviour is easy: turn off the tap when brushing your teeth, take shorter showers, and make sure there are no water leaks. Changing all your appliances to save water is a good idea, but it may not be practical to change them all at once. However, as your appliances age and need replacing, consider the low-flow alternatives listed below.

Choose low-flow appliances

Low-flow toilets
All homes in Kelowna constructed after 1994 were required to have low flow toilets. If your home was constructed prior to 1994, you may have an old water-wasting toilet. New dual flush toilets use about three litres for liquid flushes and six litres for solid flushes.

Front-loading washing machines 
These use a fraction of the water compared to the old top-loaders. They’re also gentler on your clothes and require less soap.

Low-flow showerheads 
Purchase a low-flow showerhead with an adjustable spray.

Most new dishwashers have settings that will allow you to adjust for the size of the load. If you only have a few dishes, wash them by hand. 

Recirculating Shower
Innovative products are available that allow you to re-use circulated water through this fixture to reduce energy consumption and lower your water bills. 

Grey water recycling 
Grey water recycling systems filter particles and impurities from your shower/bath and laundry water, and reuse it to flush your toilets. It’s like using normal water without having to pay again. Requirements for installation include a plumbing permit and a backflow preventer.

Use your water meter to monitor usage

ODOMETER: Reads in cubic metres. The black wheel is a decimal, so the consumption on this metre is 5443.7 CM.  

TRIANGLE: Measures flow as slow as 0.5 litres (1/8 gallon) per minute

SWEEP HAND: Ten complete revolutions = one cubic metre

To monitor your daily water use, take a reading at a set time of the day and then take another reading the same time the next day. The difference between the two readings is your water consumption for the day. Or, take a reading at night before you go to bed and the first thing in the morning when you wake up. If no one has used the bathroom in the night, the readings should be identical. If they’re not, you may have a leak.

The City Water Utility introduced water meters in 1996 and a user-pay water rate in 1998. All customers pay incrementally higher water rates depending on how much they use. Since 2003, the per capita consumption of water in a single-family household has dropped 20 per cent.

Water Smart rebate program

The City Water Utility is offering substantial rebates to a select number of customers living in single-family dwellings and strata complexes. Rebates will assist customers in updating irrigated landscape areas to make them more water use efficient.

Learn more

With year-round irrigation restrictions in-place and water rates increasing, making Water Smart landscaping choices helps property owners save money and reduces city-wide water use. We recognize that costs associated with updating irrigation systems can be a barrier when making these choices and the Irrigated Landscape Rebate program will help customers make Water Smart landscape choices and optimize water use.

Qualified Water Efficient Landscaper program

We’re now a WaterSense partner and offer a locally focused training program called Qualified Water Efficient Landscaper certification (QWEL). The training program provides graduates with knowledge in water efficient and sustainable landscapes and asks that they uphold the standards presented during the training. 

Learn more

QWEL certified contractors, designers and other successful participants agree to adhere to the requirements of the Landscape Water Conservation Report per Bylaw 10480, and to follow residential irrigation standards, in order to remain on the Kelowna QWEL Contractor list. 

The QWEL program is a WaterSense certification program and has become the standard for many U.S. cities. We’re excited to be the first to offer the program in Canada. With increasing concerns for water conservation, contractors will need to create water efficient landscapes and the Water Smart program is providing QWEL training to support these efforts. For more information on becoming a QWEL professional and upcoming training courses, please email contact us through watersmart@kelowna.ca

Note: Participating contractors are recognized solely on successful completion of the Kelowna Water Smart QWEL training program. We don’t specifically endorse any contractor, and inclusion on the Kelowna contractor list is not an endorsement of the performance of any contractor. We encourage consumers to use available resources to research potential contractors.

How do I find a QWEL contractor?

All QWEL certified individuals are listed on the North American QWEL database.

Our Water Smart team also maintains a list of Kelowna area contractors that includes the following information:

  • Contact information
  • Certifications held by company employees
  • Whether the company has a City of Kelowna business license
  • Whether the company carries liability and Workers' Compensation Board insurance
  • Whether the company can provide two or more project references
  • Type of services provided
  • Service areas

Contact us to discuss hiring a contractor.