The Okanagan is one of Canada’s most water-stressed regions and local organizations are hoping to take steps to conserve water in communities, which in turn allows for crops, wildlife and more to thrive across the valley.
With temperatures rising and summer approaching quickly, residents are being reminded to think about one of the most important resources: water.
“It’s incumbent on us to protect our water source and the biggest pillar in that is conservation and this is an effort to take those necessary steps to conservation,” said Blair Ireland, mayor of Lake Country.
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Each year the Okanagan Basin Water Board stresses the importance of water conservation, hoping to avoid the consequences of using too much water.
“We don’t want to find ourselves in a situation where we are having to make tough choices and telling people, not only are there restrictions, now we are in a drought and you cannot be watering your lawns or watering your gardens because there isn’t enough,” said Corinne Jackson of the Okanagan Basin Water Board.
One of the main goals of the initiative is to reduce water waste and part of that waste can be attributed to lawn care.
“You look at the second largest use in the valley, it’s for landscaping and what are we landscaping? Grass. What is the volume that’s required to actually have a green lawn in the middle of a semi-desert,” said Chief Byron Louis of the Okanagan Indian Band.
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Although the Okanagan is full of lakes and creeks, it’s easy to be deceived. The valley has the lowest per-person water availability in the country.
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“The Okanagan actually has one of the highest rates of water use in Canada, but we use almost more than anyone in Canada. It’s a real problem,” said Jackson.
The water board is hoping local elected officials can remind residents to take the pledges associated with reducing water use to protect the resource for future generations.
“So important that we recognize the value we have in water but also the responsibilities that we have as individuals as governments as municipalities and cities, to make sure that we are protecting the most sacred resource that we have,” said Westbank First Nation councillor Jordan Coble.
Pledges include watering your lawn between dusk and dawn as well as watering plants and not the pavement. More information is available on the make water work website.
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