Water supply examined

With growth still booming in the Okanagan, and climate change a potential threat, efforts are under way to determine the valley’s long-term water supply.

The Okanagan Basin Water Board is currently in the midst of a study that will evaluate current and future water supplies from Osoyoos to Spallumcheen.

“Growth has prompted a lot of public concern about the amount of water in the valley,” said Greg Armour, program manager, in a presentation to Vernon council Monday.

The last in-depth study on water supply was in 1974.

“We are looking out for the needs of the valley as a whole,” said Anna Warwick Sears, water stewardship director.

“The basic goal is to provide accurate information to decision-makers.”

While there may be some hesitation that possible water restrictions could negatively impact future development and businesses, Warwick Sears doesn’t see it that way.

“Conservation as a tool can save a significant amount of water. But water does not need to be a limiting factor of the economy of the Okanagan,” she said.

Once completed, the study will be used to access senior government grants for water-related initiatives, as well as possibly seeking additional water licenses on local lakes.

During the presentation, OBWB officials also indicated that Vernon is a leader when it comes to water conservation. Specific praise went to the spray irrigation program which sees treated effluent used to irrigate hay fields, parks and golf courses.

“It means that drinking water, fresh water, can be used for other purposes,” said Warwick Sears.

“Agricultural metering is also important. There are lots of conservation programs going on here.”

Time was also spent discussing OBWB’s milfoil harvesting program, and the lack of provincial funding.

“They don’t contribute one red cent which is disgusting,” said Coun. Barry Beardsell.