Agriculture Water Supply Communications Project
The second year of this 3-year project is in full swing. The District of Lake Country and the Town of Oliver joined the project last week, bringing the number of participating water suppliers to 10. Greater Vernon Water, Kelowna, West Kelowna, Penticton, RDOS, Glenmore-Ellison, Kaleden, and Summerland are all participating again this year. The Town of Osoyoos has declined again but would like to participate next year.
I am currently meeting with all of the participating water suppliers to go over their key messages documents and talk about how to recruit more farmers to sign up for e-alerts this year. About 425 farmers signed up in 2019, which is approximately 14% of the agricultural customers located in the areas covered by the project. Water suppliers are using multiple channels to get the word out, including direct mail and email, paid advertising in local newspapers, special announcements in websites, social media and newsletters, and by including project information with water bills and turn on notices.
In January, I surveyed participating water suppliers to gauge the level of satisfaction with year one and gather ideas for how to improve the project in 2020. We had historically low snow packs and a very dry May in 2019, and the B.C. government moved the Thompson Okanagan region to a Level 2 drought in June.
Water suppliers used the e-alerts to relay this information to their agricultural customers and were generally happy with the ‘cut and paste’ messaging we had worked on together and the ease of use of the CivicReady platform. Most water suppliers were dissatisfied with the number of agricultural customers who signed up for e-alerts, and want to work harder on recruitment this year.
Source: Kellie Garcia, Okanagan Basin Water Board