Okanagan Basin Water Board
Anna Warwick Sears -Executive Director (OBWB) to speak at RDOS this coming Thursday
In 2005, the Okanagan regional districts asked the OBWB to undertake a Water Management Program to assist local governments on shared problems of water quality, supply and policy – returning to OBWB’s 1970 mandate. I will be making a presentation about the review at the RDOS meeting on June 7, 2018.
This program is unique in B.C., and because of it, the OBWB has been able to undertake initiatives and secure external funding that are not possible in other areas. The program provides a regional approach to water planning that bridges the interests of all Okanagan communities. By working with many partners, the program’s impacts have been far greater than would be possible by any one organization, with significant economies of scale. By focusing on valley‐wide issues and opportunities the program complements rather than duplicates work of individual jurisdictions.
The OBWB’s Water Management Program must be renewed by September 7, 2018. OBWB’s Water Management Program Review accompanies this memo. The review process includes a financial overview of the program, an overview compilation of new, completed, and ongoing projects and partnerships, and a summary of Water Conservation and Quality Improvement grant awards (online link given in report).
Recommendations for Program Renewal:
I. Change the structure of the Water Conservation and Quality Improvement Grants Program to award grants on a valley‐wide merit basis, and allow every applicant to access a valley‐wide pool of funds. This change will make the program consistent with all other OBWB programs, such as the sewage infrastructure grants and milfoil program that operate valley‐wide. Being fully merit‐based, the program will have a greater impact – improving water conservation and quality improvement. Applications from the South Okanagan would be accessing a pool of $300,000 rather than a pool of $60,000.
II. In all other respects, continue existing program under the Terms of Reference given in the OBWB Governance Manual.
III. Pursue priorities from the OBWB Strategic Plan
Goal 1: Adequate Supplies of water for all human and environmental uses.
Goal 2: The Okanagan has excellent source water quality – drinkable, swimmable, fishable.
Goal 3: Okanagan local governments, First Nations, water purveyors and stakeholders have up‐todate coordinated plans and policies to protect water quality and water supply, and prepare for extreme events.
Goal 4: The OBWB has excellent relationships, a defined role, and clear communications with stakeholders and other levels of government.
I will be meeting with the Regional Districts of North Okanagan and Central Okanagan (on June 20 and July 19, 2018, respectively). All three Okanagan regional districts must be in agreement for the program to continue. If the Program is not renewed, the OBWB will return to its focus on milfoil control and sewerage assistance grants, and there would no longer be a single agency working to coordinate Okanagan water management. Individual communities would undertake independent water planning, and make independent arrangements for funding and approvals with the Province.
Requested Resolutions: The Okanagan Basin Water Board respectfully requests the Regional District of Okanagan‐Similkameen to reauthorize this program a new term, from April 1, 2019 to March 31, 2023. Each regional district must pass the resolutions for them to come into effect.
Requested Resolution #1.
That the Regional District of Okanagan‐Similkameen approves the following change to the OBWB Governance Manual: that future WCQI grants be awarded on a valley‐wide basis, ranked on the merit of each proposed project as it benefits its region and the valley as a whole.
Requested Resolution #2.
That the Regional District of Okanagan‐Similkameen reaffirms support for the OBWB’s Water Management Program under the Terms of Reference of the OBWB’s Governance Manual, and renewal of the program for another four‐year term, from April 1, 2019 to March 31, 2023.