Water Stewardship

B.C. Water Surveys


The oldest Annual Report in Water Management Division Library of the Province of British Columbia, Department of Lands and Forests - Lands, Surveys, and Water Rights Branches is from 1946; original field survey note books however, date back to 1904. These water surveys covered a wide field and embraced not only where and in what quantity water resources exist, but how and to what extent they could be put to economic use for developing power for irrigation and for domestic supply, with the complementary problems of storage and flood-control.

The 1960 Annual Report of the Water Rights Branch states:

"The third dominant function of the Water Rights Branch is to carry out water resource surveys. Basic data are gathered to encourage and guide the future use and conservation of our water resources, and engineering investigations are carried out pertaining to irrigation and domestic-water supply, stream erosion, flooding, and other water problems."

During the mid 1960s, to satisfy the water storage requirements for the ARDSA Program, surveys of lakes and potential reservoir sites became one of the most important functions of the Surveys Section. This activity was concentrated in the Okanagan and Thompson River Valleys and expanded quickly into the rest of the Province.

The demand for management of floodplains, following several disastrous floods in the interior of British Columbia, in the early 1970s, required a third field survey crew to meet the demands for river cross-sections and air photo field control for photogrammetric mapping.

In the 80s regionalization took place and a restraint program was introduced by the government. These factors affected the delivery of the survey program by including survey requests from the Regions into the operations and by reducing the field staff to two crews. In 1997, field staff were again reduced to 1 crew and in 2002, the Water Survey Program was discontinued and staff reassigned.

Although the program ended in 2002, the data collected by the Water Survey program continues to be used by the engineering community throughout British Columbia.