Time to put management strategy plan into action

January 20, 2009

With completion of a sustainable water strategy for the Okanagan Valley, members of the Okanagan Water Stewardship Council are now turning their attention to implementing the 45 action items in it.

After three years of effort creating the document, the next step will be to ensure it isn’t just put on a shelf.

At its regular meeting Thursday, OWSC chairman Tom Siddon said as well, the council needs to “back the new Okanagan Basin Water Board members on the issues and provide political support to them.”

The OWSC makes recommendations to the OBWB, and following last fall’s civic elections, the OBWB has an almost-entirely new board.

It’s made up of three directors from each of the three regional districts in the valley.

The newly-appointed directors are: Stu Wells, Gordon Clark and Michael Bryden from the south; Doug Findlater, Brian Given and James Baker from the Central Okanagan and Buffy Baumbrough, Rick Fairbairn and Gyula Kiss from the North Okanagan.

Toby Pike will sit on the board as chairman of the Water Supply Association of B.C., but it hasn’t been confirmed whether Chief Fabian Alexis of the Okanagan Indian Band will return to represent First Nations.

Of the elected members, only Baumbrough and Fairbairn are returning board members, as is appointed member Toby Pike.

A draft work plan for the coming year was discussed by stewardship council members, with general agreement that it’s vital the council immediately push for action on the recommendations of the detailed strategy.

To provide updates and clarity on some of the action items, the council will invite speakers to come to meetings, as suggested by staff member Nelson Jatel, but first the council will set priorities amongst the 45 action items.

Those items include protecting riparian areas and wetlands, implementing a well protection toolkit, implementing stormwater management plans, collecting better information on evaporation and developing a groundwater regulation pilot program.

Council members include representatives from a broad range of community groups, from water suppliers to academics and non-government groups.