Visitors to the Osoyoos Irrigation District will see a few new pipes going in – and for good reason. With a recent grant of $23,000 from the Okanagan Basin Water Board (OBWB), the District is in the midst of installing new flow control valves on agriculture connections. The new valves have been installed above ground for easier repair and maintenance, thus saving Osoyoos Irrigation District money in the future. The valves themselves have already netted significant savings: an estimated $12,000 was saved in power costs alone from just 6 properties that were equipped with new valves in the last year. Water Manager Bill Stewart says that while other conditions played a role, a large part of the savings is due to the new valves. Many of the old valves had worn to such an extent they were releasing up to 200 gallons of water per minute – and it was not uncommon to see valves worn to the point of doubling the flow rate.

The installation cost for each valve is approximately $700.00, and the Osoyoos Irrigation District didn’t have the funds to finish installing them on all 41 agricultural connections. As with many small purveyors, the costs of system maintenance and operation eat up the revenues they can collect. The Water Board grant made it possible to complete the job.

Altogether this year the OBWB gave out $300,000 to local governments from Osoyoos to Armstrong through their Water Conservation and Quality Improvement grant program. The intent of the grant program is to assist local governments in finding valley wide solutions for sustainable water use. Through this program, the Water Board seeks to foster innovative and collaborative projects that might otherwise lack funds, such as the Osoyoos Irrigation District’s current project. This program has been extremely popular with total eligible proposals of almost $646,000 – more than twice the available funds. The application deadline for 2007 funding will be March 1, 2007.

If you’d like more information on this topic please call Greg Armour at the Okanagan Basin Water Board, (250) 550-3773 or email greg.armour@obwb.ca