“Wherever you go, there you are” – Mac Rauch (Buckaroo Banzai)
There will be heavy-hitters from Ottawa and Washington D.C. in Osoyoos next month, but they won’t be wearing dark suits and carrying brief cases. They’ll be listening and talking to US and Canadian locals about the renewal of the Osoyoos Lake Operating Orders, hearing water science updates, and sharing in-season sockeye salmon, apples and pears.
I’m really interested in the potential of this cultural and political mixing, and the opportunity to be innovative when you take a bilateral agreement down home.
Every good relationship needs care and communication – including our international co-habitation of Osoyoos Lake, which crosses the 49th parallel. Most Canadians are a bit on edge about the US thirst for water. We want to cooperate, but there is a cautious pragmatism. The Okanagan has relatively low flows, and we rely on irrigated agriculture. On the other side, they have trouble in the Okanogan (American spelling) “keeping up with the Canadians,” who come in droves to buy inexpensive vacation properties. The Americans have irrigated agriculture and water concerns of their own.
Then there are those that know no boundaries – the easternmost run of Pacific sockeye salmon in the Columbia are enjoying their second record-breaking year in a row for Osoyoos Lake and the Okanagan River. This has huge significance for the Okanagan Nation, the Syilx people who have relied on and celebrated these salmon for thousands of years.
In September, the Town of Osoyoos will host the 2011 Osoyoos Lake Water Science Forum: “Shared water, shared future: bridges to sustainability for Osoyoos Lake”. It is a follow-up to a 2007 Forum, but a step forward – very interesting and very unusual. Continue reading