In the early 1990's the Board of Trustees of the district embarked on a very progressive and innovative water conservation program. The program targeted the agricultural water users in the district. With 80 to 85% of the annual water consumption going to irrigate crops, it was clear to the board that if the district was serious about saving water, promoting efficient agricultural water use was the most effective way to get the job done.

A partnership with the provincial Ministry of Agriculture and Agriculture Canada was formed and the district embarked on a six year project to study agricultural water use. Key components of the program included determining agricultural water needs and educating water users about efficient irrigation methods and practices. All irrigation connections in the district were fitted with water meters.

In the course of analyzing agricultural water use, detailed land use information on crop type, irrigation systems and soils was collected for all irrigated lands in the district. A weather station was set up in the district yard on Gulley Road and information on evapotranspiration and precipitation was collected. The water meters were read regularly and landowners were provided with monthly reports showing their water use, the estimated water use they required (calculated from land use information and weather), as well as the average water use for similar properties.

Concurrently, an irrigation scheduling study was undertaken to develop more efficient scheduling techniques.  All growers were provided with soil measuring devices to assist with irrigation scheduling and a number of field days were held over the years to provide growers with this information. Updates on the findings and progress of the metering program were provided on a regular basis both in water use reports and in the district newsletter.

A tremendous amount of information was obtained from the project and a report entitled “South East Kelowna Irrigation District Demand Management Project” was prepared by the Ministry of Agriculture in June of 2000 (copies of the report can be obtained from the district office). An independent analysis of the district’s drought year water requirement was done by district staff and it was determined the district had realized an overall reduction in water demand of 10%.   This marked the conclusion of the partnership agreement with the federal and provincial governments and a new phase of the program was begun.


Annual water allotments for metered irrigation services

The second phase of the metering program was initiated by the Board of Trustees in 2001. After six years of analysis and education on agricultural water use, the board implemented a water allotment system for all metered irrigation services in the district.  A report recommending metered rates for excess water use was presented to the board in early 2003. This report titled Agricultural Metering Program Review is available on this website under News and Reports. 

A subsequent review of the allotment system and inclined block rate was done in early 2005 and this report titled Agricultural Water Conservation Program Review is also available in the News & Reports/Internal Reports section of this web site.

The allotment system provides landowners with a seasonal volume of water for irrigation. The allotment is set annually by the trustees and is expressed as a volume of water for each acre of water rights on a parcel of land. Typically, during normal supply years the allotment per acre of water rights will be the same as the drought year water requirement of the district (the drought year water requirement is the estimated water demand of the district during very dry conditions).

The drought year requirement of the district is equal to 2.25 acre feet of water per acre of irrigated land. How much water is that? It is equal to one acre of land with 2.25 feet (27 inches) of water on it. This is equal to 733,162 U.S. gallons (USG), or 2,775 mper acre of irrigated area.

The total allotment for each property is calculated from the water rights of that property. For example, if a parcel of land has five acres of water rights and the annual allotment is set at 733,162 USG per acre of water rights, then the allotment for the property would be 3,665,810 USG (5 acres X 733,162 USG = 3,665,810 USG).

The annual allotment for each irrigation season is determined in the spring prior to the irrigation season and all landowners with metered irrigated services are notified by mail of the annual allotment for their property. The board has full discretion as to the amount of the allotment, although in average supply years the allotment will generally be the drought year requirement described above. In low supply years the allotment may be less than the drought year requirement.

In the event a property is discovered to have exceeded the annual allotment, the board has a number of remedies available under authority of Bylaw # 579 – “Irrigation Water Distribution and Regulation Bylaw”. The most common penalty applied to land that has exceeded the annual allotment is a metered rate penalty. The more the allotment has been exceeded, the higher the penalty. The penalty is billed with the annual Water Tax and the irrigation service will not be turned on the following year until the penalty has been paid in full.  The board also has the discretion to turn off the irrigation service to any property that is in excess of the annual allotment. This penalty is typically used in years when water supplies are short due to low snowpacks and dry conditions.


Metered rate for excess water use

Water use in excess of the annual allotment for property with a metered irrigation service will be charged a metered rate. In addition to charging a metered rate for excess water use, the Board of Trustees retains the authority to discontinue water service at its discretion.

The intention of the metered rate is to discourage excessive water use. The rate is structured so that the greater the excess water use is the greater the penalty will be. This is called an inclined block rate. The following table provides the rates per 1,000 US gallons that will apply to water use in excess of the allotment for the property:

Metered rate for water use in excess of allotment
Block Range (% in excess): 
0% to 10%
11% to 20%
21% to 30%
31% to 40%
41% to 50%
51% to 60%
61% to 70%
71% to 80%
81% to 90%
>90%
Rate per 1,000 US gallons:
$0.10
$0.13
$0.16
$0.20
$0.25
$0.31
$0.38
$0.46
$0.55
$0.65

Each block in the table is a volume of water equal to ten percent of the allotment. For each ten percent block of water use in excess of the allotment the rate per 1,000 US gallons of water increases. The rates are cumulative and only apply to water use within the range of the block/volume of water to which they are attributed.

The district reads the irrigation meters several times throughout the season and provides landowners with Water Use Reports. These reports provide the owner with an update on the amount of water used and how much of the allotment is left. Water Use Reports also provide the maximum flow allotment for the property.

Each block in the table is a volume of water equal to ten percent of the allotment. For each ten percent block of water use in excess of the allotment the rate per 1,000 US gallons of water increases. The rates are cumulative and only apply to water use within the range of the block/volume of water to which they are attributed.

The district reads the irrigation meters several times throughout the season and provides landowners with water use reports. These reports provide the owner with an update on the amount of water used up to the date the meter was read and a calculation as to how much of the allotment for the property is left. Other relevant information about water use is also provided such as what the odometer reading on the meter was showing when the meter was read and important announcements such as when the last day of irrigation is.

The following table provides an example of the metered rate applied to a property that has an allotment of 12,000,000 USG that has used a total of 16,567,590 USG:

Metered Rate Penalty Calculator - Example
Enter allotment and water use to determine the metered rate (in US Gallons).
Allotment:
 
12,000,000
 
 
 
Water Use:
 
16,567,590
 
 
 
Use Over Allotment:
4,567,590
 
 
 
Block Volume (10% of allot.):
1,200,000
 
 
 
% Over Allotment:
38.06
 
 
 
Block
 
Water
Penalty
%
Volume
Rate / 
 
Use Over
 
 
 
1,000 USG
 
Allotment:
 
>0-10%
1,200,000
$0.10
X
1,200,000
 $       120.00 
>10-20%
1,200,000
$0.13
X
1,200,000
 $       156.00 
>20-30%
1,200,000
$0.16
X
1,200,000
 $       192.00 
>30-40%
1,200,000
$0.20
X
967,590
 $       193.52 
>40-50%
1,200,000
$0.25
X
0
 $              -   
>50-60%
1,200,000
$0.31
X
0
 $              -   
>60-70%
1,200,000
$0.38
X
0
 $              -   
>70-80%
1,200,000
$0.46
X
0
 $              -   
>80-90%
1,200,000
$0.55
X
0
 $              -   
>90%
1,200,000
$0.65
X
0
 $              -   
Total:
 
 
 
4,567,590
 $       661.52

To calculate your totals, please visit our Metered Rate calculator