Five Guiding Principles for Water Management in the Okanagan Basin
The following five principles provide a framework within which the Okanagan Water Stewardship Council will evaluate specific water management policies or proposals. These inter-woven principles should be pursued equally and in tandem.
1. Think Regionally and Think Long-Term:
Water management decisions will place priority on the long-term sustainability of the Okanagan region, protecting and enhancing water quality and supply for current and future generations.
2. Protect Nature for the Benefit of All:
Natural processes in healthy watershed ecosystems are the most effective and cost-efficient means to maintain water quality and quantity. Restoring degraded lands and protecting surface and groundwater source areas are the essential cornerstones of an overall strategy for sustainable water resources in the Okanagan.
3. Anticipate Change – Plan Accordingly:
Successful water management strategies must be flexible – adapting to new information and anticipating annual variation in water supply as well as long-term changes in climate and land use. This adaptive approach relies on careful monitoring of resources and continued research for new and better management strategies.
4. Balance Multiple Priorities:
Water is a finite resource that is essential to the ecological, economic and social wellbeing of the Okanagan, and must be shared between all human uses and the needs of the natural environment. Communities must work together to prioritize how water is allocated during times of short supply, basing decisions on science as well as social and economic values.
5. Everyone Speaks – Everyone Listens:
Clear and open communication is essential for sustaining public commitment to water stewardship. Water management in the Okanagan must involve all stakeholders and partners – from citizens and business interests to decision makers at all levels of government, including First Nations – taking action and coordinating efforts throughout the watershed.