Agriculture water

Approximately 3% of water licensed in British Columbia is for consumptive uses such as industrial, commercial, drinking water or agriculture. Certainty of access to water is crucial for agricultural development and food security in the province. This includes reserving water for the 4.7 million hectares of agricultural lands in British Columbia.


Flooding is a common hazard on British Columbia farmland as a result of heavy rainfall, snowmelt, and/or ice jams. When a watercourse overflows its banks, floodplains store the water until it is able to move downstream or until it can be absorbed into the ground. Flooding is a natural event that replenishes the groundwater and revitalizes the soil through deposition of sediment.


In some parts of B.C., high levels of precipitation and seasonal runoff can cause the soil on which agricultural crops and livestock are being raised to become waterlogged. Most agricultural crops are adversely affected by ponded water on the soil surface and prolonged saturation of their roots. Proper drainage can be achieved by using a combination of soil management practices, surface and subsurface drainage techniques.

Drought in agriculture

Agriculture producers in the province must plan and prepare for emergencies that may occur and can including drought.

Farm water supply and conservation

In B.C., there are three main sources of water for agriculture: groundwater, surface water, and water supplied by irrigation districts, municipalities or improvement districts. Water conservation is an integral part of farm water management to ensure water use is efficient and beneficial.  


Irrigation is an essential part of crop production in water deficit areas. Plants require water to grow. Applying the right amount of water, at the right time will maximize crop yield. Both too much and too little water can reduce crop yield. 

Riparian areas

All habitats within the agricultural landscape are important, but aquatic and riparian areas are especially significant to both biodiversity and agricultural production.

Water management

There are a number of agriculture water management strategies and projects being undertaken in British Columbia.