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Lake Country mayor elected as water board vice-chair

Blair Ireland embraces water management learning curve

Blair Ireland is widening his learning horizons as the new mayor of Lake Country.

That has led him to become the vice-chair of the Okanagan Basin Water Board (OBWB) in his role as the board director representing his community.

“As a new mayor you get put on various boards, and since water is a primary concern to all local governments I thought it was important for me to be involved with the water board,” said Ireland.

After the OBWB board meeting Jan. 10 to elect a new executive, Ireland sat in on the water stewardship meeting two days later and was impressed by the incredible level of knowledge around the table.

“I am looking forward to learning more about these things and put myself in the best position to help my community.”

Osoyoos Mayor Sue McKortoff was re-elected for a fifth year in a row as chair of the water board.

The other returning board directors include Victor Cumming (Vernon mayor), Rick Fairbairn (Regional District of North Okanagan board director), Doug Holmes (Summerland mayor) and Rick Knodel (Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen board director).

New directors include Christine Fraser (Regional District of North Okanagan, mayor of Spallumcheen) and Wayne Carson (Regional District of Central Okanagan board director) and Charlie Hodge (Kelowna city councillor).

Water management appointees to the board Tim Lezard, representing the Okanagan Nation Alliance, Penticton Indian Band councillor; Bob Hrasko, Water Supply Association of B.C. board chair; and Scott Boswell, chair of the Okanagan Water Stewardship Council.

Ireland said as a Lake Country resident, he is one of many Okanagan Valley residents who take advantage of the recreation opportunities offered by local lakes.

“But whatever we do, Okanagan Lake and others serve us as giant water reservoirs that many of us rely on for drinking water, that keep our farms going,” Ireland said.

He said water conservation and preserving that water resource continues to be a work in progress.

“We’re getting better at thinking and being aware of these things but we need to keep working at it.”

He said the drought conditions in California may not be representative of what can happen in the Okanagan, but it serves as a lesson about what happens if water is taken for granted.

He says Lake Country faces water quality challenges with water and sewer upgrade projects forthcoming and an algae problem in Wood Lake caused by a still unknown source.

“We need water to drink, to water our farms and to keep our community going,” he said.

READ MORE:Mediation sought for stalled CUPE-Central Okanagan Public Schools contract talks

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Barry Gerding

About the Author: Barry Gerding

Senior regional reporter for Black Press Media in the Okanagan. I have been a journalist in the B.C. community newspaper field for 37 years...
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