Two meetings held in last two days in Oroville and Osoyoos to hear the people with regard to a new agreement between USA/Canada on all matters concerning a lake and its levels governed by agreement that is set to expire in 2013.
The Orovile meeting drew about 15 persons with 4 speakers. The Osoyoos gathering Wednesday night was packed with overflow in the lobby of the Best Western. Crowd estimated at over 40 with no seating for late arrivals.
Public Hearings were held on the renewal of Operating Orders for Osoyoos Lake. Currently, an agreement between the two countries regulates water levels to protect against both drought conditions and flood control to the benefit of agriculture, tourism and fisheries protection. The last time such hearings held – 25 years ago.
Several concerns heard – that when the lake level rises it has some effect on the high water mark and the value of land.
The Town of Osoyoos wants fairly consistent lake water levels to prevent flooding
The state of Washington is concerned about water flows stateside for fish at the lowest levels of the year
An American engineer expressed his opinion that the control of water is easier done on the Canadian side and that Okanagan Lake should be used more as a reservoir. He stated that the newer improved Zosel Dam near Oroville has limited affect on lake levels.
One prediction for the future – more drought conditions and erratic flows from early spring runoffs.
Mayor Stu Wells says he is very happy with the results and the input and is assured that the IJC commissioners have got the message that Osoyoos Lake levels must be kept fairly constant during most of the year and that the lakes further north are better at handling the heavy spring flows. He says he believes the experts on both sides of the border are fairly close on exactly what orders are needed for the decades ahead and all the competing demands.