Funding is insufficient

The Okanagan Basin Water Board will be hard pressed to fund all of the water conservation and quality improvement grants that the Central Okanagan Regional District endorsed this week.

Water board spokeswoman Genevieve Dunbar says that applications from various Central Okanagan organizations, totaling $326,000, were submitted to the water board’s Water Conservation and Quality Improvement Grant program before the Feb. 13 deadline. Unfortunately, there’s only $175,000 available for local projects.

The Central Okanagan Regional District endorsed seven projects at a meeting Monday night, which if approved by the water board, could include improvements to Joe Rich Creek’s banks, cattle fencing in parts of the Black Mountain watershed and xeriscaping initiatives in the region.

However, Dunbar explained that projects endorsed by the regional board must now be weighed against individual applications coming from the member municipalities (Kelowna, West Kelowna, Peachland and Lake Country). Staff must still vet all applications and make final grant recommendations to the water board on April 7.

Agencies receiving grants will be advised within a few days of the water board’s approval, said Dunbar.

Over the last three years, the Okanagan Basin Board’s water conservation and quality improvement grant program has doled out more than $1.5 million for 59 projects.