Members of the Similkameen Valley Planning Society and staff from the Regional District Okanagan Similkameen hosted an open house to bring Similkameen residents up to date with the progress of the Similkameen Watershed Study on Tuesday, October 7.
SVPS Chair Manfred Bauer explained the study’s beginnings to a gathering of approximately 15 residents at Victory Hall. He said the study came about after two other studies – an amenity study in 2009 and a a 2011 strategy study for a sustainable Similkameen – pointed to water as the number one priority of Similkameen residents.
Bauer said the watershed study is intended to produce a non-regulatory water plan for the Similkameen, a document meant to drive water policy and shape water use in future years.
RDOS Public Works Manager Doug French, along with Communications Consultant Andrew Stuckey, made a short presentation outlining phase one results of the watershed study so far.
French admitted the study initially “did not have a lot of good base info” adding further that phase one had identified some information gaps that would be addressed as the study moves into phase two.
The results of phase one included the creation of a water database for the valley, in addition to creating a communication plan and background reports on the valley’s water issues.
Phase one findings produced information on the Similkameen’s streamflow, water quality, water useage, and groundwater data. If further funding becomes available, a phase three portion of the study intends to look at Similkameen groundwater in more detail.
Phase one also produced data relating to lakes, wetlands and riparian areas in the valley, in addition to looking at climate change, fish habitat, species at risk, land use, flood / drought issues and water obligations.
French concluded his presentation by requesting citizen involvement in the study.
“This is a grass roots effort,” he said, “watch for upcoming seminars and workshops. We want to hear your thoughts.”
Residents were welcome to ask questions following the presentation.