Similkameen Valley Watershed Study

Similkameen Valley Watershed Project

The Similkameen Valley's watershed is located in the Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen (RDOS) - Areas B, G & H and includes lands under jurisdiction of the Town of Princeton, the Village of Keremeos, the Upper Similkameen Indian Band and the Lower Similkameen Indian Band. There are also six irrigation and improvement districts that operate under the authority of the B.C. Local Government Act and community water systems.

In addition to the governing bodies a society was formed to further the interests of communities in the valley - the Similkameen Valley Planning Society (SVPS). The SVPS initiated a multi-part Sustainable Similkameen Project. With funding from the BC Real Estate Foundation, the RDOS and the municipalities of Princeton and Keremeos, the SVPS sponsored the report STRATEGY for a Sustainable Similkameen Valley (2011-2020).

Sustainable Similkameen Project, click the following link:

This report contains a number of Strategic Aims.  With regards to the Watershed, Strategic Aim 2 of the Strategy is to “Sustain and rehabilitate the Valley’s environmental and natural resources health”, which includes:
Strategic Means 7: Improve water management significantly and integrate management into Valley-specific climate change, and
          7.1 – Complete inventory of Valley water quality and quantity, and
          7.2 – Formulate a Water Management Action Plan (including assessment and action for water impoundment and strengthening of international coordination).

The SVPS then commissioned the report, the Similkameen River Water Management Plan Part 1– Scoping Study to identify information gaps and made recommendations on how to proceed with the planning process.

Terms of Reference:

The first step of the planning process, as recommended in the Scoping Study was to initiate a consultation process via a Stakeholder Advisory Committee (SAC), seek input from Technical Advisors and to develop a Draft Terms of Reference for a Similkameen Watershed Plan (SWP).

Terms of Reference document

Phase 1

The overall objective of Phase 1 is to research and compile available baseline information needed to support completion of the objectives specified in the TOR.  The major Phase 1 tasks included development of a searchable information database that will be accessible for stakeholders and other interested parties; assessment of information gaps and setting priorities for action to address the gaps; development of a communication plan to support the planned public consultation process; and preparation of Backgrounder Reports on water issues to support public and stakeholder engagement.

Similkameen Watershed Plan:  Phase 1 Report by Summit Environmental Consultants Inc., January 2014.

Phase 2

Phase 2 of the Similkameen Watershed Plan (SWP) looked at the three highest priority gaps identified from the Phase 1 report.

20150625 Similkameen Watershed Plan – Phase 2 Water Supply, Quality, and Groundwater by Summit Environmental Consultants Inc.

Appendix A – Assessment of water availability and risk of inadequate supply
Appendix B – Groundwater – surface water interaction
Appendix C – Status and trends analyses of existing water quality data

Presentation to RDOS Board December 17, 2015:
Similkameen Watershed Plan:  Technical Studies Update, Associated Environmental.


Phase 3

Phase 3 included a technical agricultural component that addresses current and future agricultural water demand from groundwater; and preparation of the final watershed plan document that builds on the technical studies from Phase 1, 2 and 3.

20170718 Similkameen Valley Watershed Plan: Phase 3: Agricultural Technical Report by Associated Environmental:

Appendix A – Questionnaire
Appendix B – Tabulated Groundwater Quality Data
Appendix C – 2016 Laboratory Reports
Appendix D – Groundwater Classification Diagrams

Final Watershed Plan

The Similkameen Valley Planning Society have completed a NON-regulatory Similkameen Watershed Plan as Phase 3.  The SWP was intended to provide guidance to decision-making authorities, resource managers, users and residents regarding water and land resources in the watershed. 

20170911 Similkameen Watershed Plan, by Associated Environmental:

Appendix A – Summaries of Technical Studies
Appendix B – Planning Tools for Water Conservation
Appendix C – Examples of Watershed Governance

Additional Supporting Documentation:

University of British Columbia

The University of British Columbia developed a research methodology for quantifying relative contribution of forest disturbance and climate variability to hydrology in large watersheds.  The objectives of this 4 year project include: (1) development of equivalent disturbance area for both Tulameen River and the whole Similkameen River watersheds considering hydrological recovery following the mountain pine beetle infestation; (2) application of our well established methodology in both watersheds to assess relative contributions of climate variability and forest disturbance (in Tulameen Rive watershed) or land cover change (in the whole Similkameen River watershed) to hydrology; and (3) Interpretation of the results for designing future water and watershed management plans.

20161231 The cumulative effects of forest disturbance and climate variability on water resources sustainability in the Similkameen River watershed (Final Report) by University of British Columbia, Okanagan.  

Fraser Basin Council website 'Rethinking Our Water Ways', click the following link to view :

Rethinking Our Water Ways guide by Fraser Basin Council

Meeting Power Point Presentations:

Similkameen Watershed

A Healthy Future for Water, Land and Wildlife in the Similkameen

Groundwater Legislation and Government Tools

BC Ministry of Agriculture:  Agricultural Irrigation Demand Model