There are several things to consider when buying land for the purpose of creating a Homestead. In my last post on this topic I discovered that there was a huge difference between the available land for agriculture farm land in British Columbia compared to Ontario. Being personally unable to decide which province would be better to live in, I’m letting non-personal facts decide for me, well, mostly anyway.
No matter what the cost of land, there are some things that go beyond monetary value, in the sense that, if we manage to afford a huge track of land of over 400 acres, it is pointless without good soil and water.
I’m not going to get into the different types of soil on this post, but I am going to cover water.
Water for farms is vital, it is the primary reason I did not search out property located in Alberta and the rest of the Prairies of Canada. All primary sources of water west of the Rocky mountains are glacier fed, with Global Warming this is a major risk factor. The source of water is your immediate concern, rather then the amount of water that has been recorded in recent years.
There are only truly two sources of fresh water for a farm, rainfall, and glacier fed. Regardless of what the practical source of water is, whether it be the water table, a pond, stream, or lake, where that source gets it’s renewable supply is critical.
The second consideration of water is it’s purity. Mercury, PCP’s, and other pollutants can effect not only your long term health, but your vary survival in WTSHTF scenario. [BC WATER QUALITY REPORT]
My first gut reaction is to only look at land within British Columbia’s West Coast, or the Islands, this is mainly because of the amount of rainfall the west coast receives each year, and it’s long growing season. Because there is very little you can do about the amount of pollution within rain, it becomes your first choice. Or so I thought.
The truth is, it is the reserve ability of your water supply that you should look at first. Being next to a glacier fed fresh water lake, may not sound like the smartest thing to do under the threat of global warming, but it is. The Great Lakes in Ontario are also Glacier fed, it’s just that those Glaciers receded during the last Ice Age, it’s the retaining ability of those depressions of the lakes, and their vast size that has allowed them to continue to exists for so long. As long as the reserve source of water is one the last in the chain, it should continue to be filled with other sources of water, a stream directly from a glacier is no good, but a glacier fed fresh water lake, that also receives lots of rainfall, is a good choice.
Land which is next to a fresh water lake at the bottom of a basin, or at the foot of a vast set of valleys has the ability to replenish it’s water supply from many sources, the primary one being rainfall, even if the local area does not have a substantial amount of natural rain, you can follow the source of the water to see if there is another area which feeds your source with your needs. (Taking into account of course the amount the will be used by others up stream).
The first place listed on my previous post concerning where to buy farm land, listed Grand Forks, British Columbia. I found a report about the sources of water for the area here.
The Grand Forks aquifer, located in south-central British Columbia, Canada was used as a case study area for modeling the sensitivity of an aquifer to changes in recharge and river stage consistent with projected climate-change scenarios for the region. Results suggest that variations in recharge to the aquifer under the different climate-change scenarios, modeled under steady-state conditions, have a much smaller impact on the groundwater system than changes in river-stage elevation of the Kettle and Granby Rivers, which flow through the valley. All simulations showed relatively small changes in the overall configuration of the water table and general direction of groundwater flow. High-recharge and low-recharge simulations resulted in approximately a +0.05 m increase and a –0.025 m decrease, respectively, in water-table elevations throughout the aquifer. Simulated changes in river-stage elevation, to reflect higher-than-peak-flow levels (by 20 and 50%), resulted in average changes in the water-table elevation of 2.72 and 3.45 m, respectively. Simulated changes in river-stage elevation, to reflect lower-than-base flow levels (by 20 and 50%), resulted in average changes in the water-table elevation of −0.48 and −2.10 m, respectively. Current observed water-table elevations in the valley are consistent with an average river-stage elevation (between current base flow and peak-flow stages).
What this basically means is that the predicted changes to the water table in the area due to Global Warming are going to amount to very little. Therefore, as far as water source is concerned, Grand Forks is not eliminated from the list.
I’ve been to Grand Forks a number of years ago, it’s a nice community with lots of natural wonders and good people, it is interesting that this place did not get removed from the list of places to look for land, I would have assumed that water would be a problem in the future because of the amount of glacier involvement.
Grindrod, BC and the surrounding areas, were eliminated because of history. During lean and arid times, the only source of water was well water for many farms, even though I might be able to get a farm with a better supply of water, I would not want to enter into conflicts with my neighbors over the use of that water.
Third on my list of places in British Columbia to look for land was Kamloops/Okanangan. My first reaction was to take this off the list as well because of the constant fire storms in the area a few years ago, one of which my own children were in the middle of one summer. However, this had more to do with land use, and lack of management, of which was preventing fires which if left to their own devices would have prevented the disaster in the first place, it was the build up of dry biomass the created much of the problem, and since it is now gone, and policies have changed, I started looking a little deeper. (WATER USEAGE REPORT FOR THE AREA) Turns out that only 3% of the area is covered with water. In fact there is even a given title one area called the Dry Belt. I closer look would be required to decide if the entire area should be deleted from the list. Something I currently don’t have time at the moment.
The Shuswap River runs through the area around Lumby, it is a great tourist attraction for white water sports. A Hydro Power plant operates in the area, one of the few in the near future owned by BCHydro. The Bessette Creek Watershed is the main source for fresh water for areas down stream of Lumby, however, Lumby discharges it’s sewage waste into the watershed. Deleted from the list. (I have visions of plague here folks)
Monte Creek is part Kamloops area, and part Salmon Arm (for my purposes at least) it is directly accessible from Highway #1 in British Columbia. There is no public water source for the hiker in the area, and the entire area is part of ‘aggregate resources’ which is great for pottery, sucks for gardening. I would still have to take a closer look at this area to delete from the list, but this post is more to eliminate the obvious.
I still have to look at Rock Creek, Sayward, Trial Rural, and Westbridge not to mention the islands. But I think you get the idea of the how’s and why’s so far.
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Copyright 2007 Dan Wolfe