Did You Know?
There is less water available per person in the Okanagan than anywhere else in Canada, and the Okanagan has one of the highest rates of water use per person in Canada. Outdoor watering of lawns and gardens is a main use of our water. Consider making water-wise choices with tips found on this page.
Check out how much water the Okanagan uses compared to B.C. and Canada:
Every drop counts! The volume of water pumped from the Okanagan Lake Pump Station and Penticton Creek is continuously monitored by flow meters at the treatment plant. The City is focused on ongoing initiatives to conserve this natural resource, including times of restricted water use. On this page you will find ways that you can be more water-wise.
Save Water in the Yard
Your lawn needs less water than you think! A healthy lawn needs only 2.5 cm (1") of water per week. Watering deeply and less often promotes deeper root growth and your grass will become healthier and more drought resistant.
Tip #1: Step on your grass. If the blades spring back, wait to water.
Tip #2: To test how much you are watering your lawn, place a tuna can or a jar with a mark of 2.5 cm (1") on it and place it in a location that receives good sprinkler coverage. When the water is at the 2.5 cm (1") mark, turn off the water.
Keep your grass over 2.5 inches long. Adjust your lawn mower blade to keep it at this length, and make sure the mower blade is kept sharp, as dull blades rip grass which makes it more susceptible to disease.
Longer grass provides more root shade, discourages weed growth, and retains more water. This makes your lawn healthier and more drought resistant!
Don't throw your grass clippings out, and practice "grass-recycling". Leave them on your lawn as mulch. This will save time, money, and water!
Mulching your landscape reduces evaporation and runoff, prevents weeds, and creates an attractive appearance. Mulch keeps soil temperature in check, warming it in the spring, and cooling it in the summer. This saves you time, money, and water.
Organic mulch such as grass clippings and wood chips can provide nutrients for plants as they decompose while minimising soil erosion, inhibiting weeds, and reducing evaporation. Inorganic mulch like rock and gravel inhibit weeds and helps with moisture retention. Determining which mulch is right for your yard depends on preference, appearance and landscape.
Xeriscaping is gardening with the natural environment, and can be applied to almost any style of landscape or garden. Choosing plants that thrive in the Okanagan region and climate will offer you a beautiful, healthy garden that requires minimal irrigation, maintenance, and pest control.
To find suitable plants to add to your yard, visit the Okanagan Xeriscape Association Plant Database.
Lawns can become compacted over time. Aerating removes cores of soil and turf from the lawn, allowing water, nutrients and oxygen to penetrate the soil and reach the roots.
It is recommended that you aerate your lawn in the spring, every year or so, depending on your soil and lawn health. Contact a professional to do this.
Water between dusk and dawn to prevent water evaporation. If you water in the heat of the day, 60% of water can be lost to evaporation. Avoid sprinklers that oscillate, produce mists or fine sprays to reduce the amount of water lost due to evaporation. Don't water on windy days as the water will just blow away and be more susceptible to evaporation.
Automatic irrigation systems often waste more water than a manual system. If you use an automatic irrigation system, it is encouraged that you check and adjust it once a month. By doing this, you can better follow the odd/even water restrictions.
Drip irrigation uses 30%-50% less water than regular watering methods. Drip irrigation lines are low to the ground or buried and drip directly on to soil and down into root sources. This reduces the amount of water that is lost to evaporation significantly.
Inspect for leaks in your irrigation system by following tips here. Leaks often go unnoticed and can waste thousands of litres.
Fun Fact: A 1.5mm hole that drips water for 3 months can waste 280,120 litres of water, or the equivalent of 927 filled bathtubs.
Save Water in the Home
Fixing that leaky tap or toilet can save hundreds of litres of water every year!
If your toilet "hisses" when it's not in use, it might have a leak between the tank and the bowl.
To check: put a drop of food colouring in the toilet tank and wait a few minutes. If, without flushing, the colour appears in the bowl, you have a leak.
Toilets and showers are the biggest water users in the home. Replacing those old water-guzzling toilets and shower heads can save you hundreds of litres of water per week.
Replace your old toilet with a new efficient one to save water and money! Older toilets typically use between 13 and 25 litres per flush, where newer, low-flow toilets use less than 5 litres per flush.
If your shower head is more than a few years old, it might be costing you a lot in water usage every time you turn it on. Older shower heads have flow rates as high as 20 litres per minute compared to new models that use between 5.6 and 7.6 litres/ minute.
Aerators mix air with water, reducing the flow by about 6 litres a minute! The pressure will remain the same, making this an easy, effective, and affordable switch.
Install an efficient washing machine and only use it when you have a full load to wash. Efficient washing machines use about 40% less water and 50% less energy than traditional washing machines.
Only run your dishwasher when it is completely full. Dishwashers use about the same amount of water and energy when empty and full, so be mindful of when you run it. Consider installing an energy efficient dishwasher to do your part.
When shaving, fill the sink instead of letting the water run continuously and never let the tap run when brushing your teeth. This can save 10-20 litres of water each time!
Water Saving Tips for Each Season
Tip #1: Check your irrigation system for damage and leaks.
Tip #2: Set the lawn mower blade height at about 2.5".
Tip #3: Once the lawn begins to show substantial growth, mow once a week, cutting no more than the top 1/3 of grass length.
Tip #4: Aerate compacted areas of the lawn. This allows water, nutrients, and air to reach the roots.
Tip #5: Over-seed with a low-maintenance lawn seed mixture.
Tip #6: After mowing, leave clippings on the lawn. Clippings break down to provide nitrogen and help with water retention.
Tip #7: Remove buildup of thatch. It is recommended that you contact a lawn care professional for this.
Tip #8: Starting on May 1, follow the City of Penticton water restrictions.
Tip #9: Consider xeriscaping your yard and planting drought-resistant plants.
Tip #1: Mow high - keep your lawn above 2.5" long and leave the clippings on the lawn for added nutrients.
Tip #2: Give your lawn 1" of water per week. This usually consists of watering for ~1 hour, once a week to give your lawn a deep watering.
Tip #3: Keep up to date with water restrictions. Stage 1 Normal is in effect May 1 - August 31, but is subject to change if drought conditions arise.
Tip #1: Perform irrigation maintenance and repair.
Tip #2: Rake and aerate your lawn if needed.
Tip #3: Adjust your sprinkler timer as temperatures go down.
Tip #4: Consider installing low-flow, water efficient appliances and fixtures. The fall is a great time to make water-wise choices inside as temperatures cool and more time is spent indoors. Check out the "Save Water in the Home" tab.
Tip #1: Plan lawn care goals and steps for the upcoming year to be more water-wise in your yard.
Tip #2: Sharpen mower blades in preparation for spring and summer months.
Tip #3: Check your toilets and faucets for leaks.
How Much Water Do You Use?
Visit Home Water Works website for an interactive calculator to find out how much water you're using!
This calculator compares your water use to a similar average and efficient house in your region. It estimates the energy savings and carbon footprint of your hot water usage, and helps identify specific areas for improving overall household water efficiency.
This award-winning documentary showcases Osoyoos Lake and the Okanagan River Basin, its people, the various competing needs for water, and how this is managed.
The doc was created in partnership with the Okanagan Basin Water Board-Okanagan WaterWise, the International Joint Commission and Washington State Department of Ecology.