The Okanagan Basin Water Board (OBWB) has approved $300,000 in funding to 18 projects that will help conserve and improve the quality of water throughout the Okanagan Valley.
And while there were no projects approved directly in Lake Country, there are a few close to the district and some innovative school projects being funded by the OBWB.
Directors approved the Water Conservation and Quality Improvement (WCQI) Grants at their regular board meeting on March 3. In all, there were 34 applications with a total ask of $643,138.
“Once again, we had great interest in the program from throughout the valley and excellent applications,” noted James Littley, OBWB’s office and projects manager.
In the North Okanagan, projects include a flood mapping project on Swan Lake and irrigation improvements at Okanagan College’s Kalamalka demonstration garden. Also, Greater Vernon Water was awarded funds to help conduct a land use and water quality assessment of Swan Lake. “For the last 40 years, the OBWB has been helping Okanagan communities move from sewer to septic and seen dramatic improvements to the water quality in our lakes,” added Littley. “Swan Lake presents an opportunity to look at how an area with no sewer system and a range of land uses – residential, agriculture, industry, and roads – can affect water and inform better land use planning decisions, in Vernon and beyond.”
There are several innovative projects funded in the Central Okanagan, including a study on biosolids by the Regional District of Central Okanagan, and virus testing in groundwater by South East Kelowna Irrigation District. But the board was also pleased to see young people getting involved in stewardship. Ecole KLO Middle School received funds in 2013 towards its Fascieux Creek Daylighting project and received funds again this year for Phase 2. Also, Shannon Lake Elementary received funds for a water conservation education project.
“This is a really neat project,” Littley said. “The school grounds are experiencing increased erosion while at the same time having to build new classrooms. By putting in some innovative gardens they’ll address erosion while teaching kids about WaterWise gardening, conservation through landscaping. They’re also looking to create a more healthy ecosystem for pollinators and decrease runoff which will help protect fish in nearby streams.”
Since the program began awarding funds in 2006, the OBWB has awarded $3.2 million to 197 projects throughout the Okanagan. Projects must meet a number of criteria, including the ability to demonstrate water savings or improvements to water quality, show collaboration, and provide valley-wide benefit.