Summerland WATER

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Water Management and Climate Change in the Okanagan Water Basin is a comprehensive study edited by Stewart Cohen and Tanuja Kulkarni. This study was conducted in conjunction with Environment Canada and the University of British Columbia. The sponsoring agency was the Climate Change Action Fund of Natural Resources Canada.

The Okanagan has been experiencing rapid population growth, many land use changes, and associated stresses on its water resource systems. The authors of this study recognized a need to broaden the dialogue on adaptation to these changes.

The executive summary reads, in part, "This study has two main goals: to identify climate change impacts and possible adaptation strategies for the Okanagan region AND to test an approach for engaging resource managers and regional stakeholders as collaborators in research and dialogue on climate change impacts and adaptation."

This study offers a wealth of information, including population figures, climate observations, hydrological data, and focus group results.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Water Demand in the Okanagan Water Basin

A 2005 thesis paper entitled Impacts of Climate Change and Population Growth on Water Demand in the Okanagan Water Basin provides an excellent read of current and projected supply versus demand water scenarios. This paper suggests that, " in the absence of additional demand management or changes in housing densities, the region can expect, at a minimum, a doubling of water demand by 2069." Further, the author projects that, "in cases where future demand was compared to licensed supply, scenarios with medium or high population growth, current preferences in housing, and current demand management regimes, exceeded licensed supplies in the 2050's, indicating a need for reduced demand or increased allocations in the future."

Comparisons, case studies and cost analysis are given for cities and towns up and down the valley. Best and worst case scenarios, summaries of water savings options, and currrent trend versus Smart Growth comparisons are explored.

This paper is well worth reading and offers compelling research and reason to re-examine our current water practices.

Climate Change Study by World Wildlife Fund

A recent study by the World Wildlife Fund reviewed the likely impacts of a two degree global increase in temperature. The study warns that, "although Canada has extensive water resources, even a moderate amount of climate change will impact water flows in the Great Lakes and the Athabasca River enough to reduce hydro-electricity production in Ontario and oil sands development in Alberta."

Read a summary of the the study at

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Water Supply and Public Private Partnerships

There is an increase in what is commonly referred to as "P3's" or Public Private Partnerships in the water supply and management in Canadian Municipalities. This increased involvemtent has not been without controversy. On the one hand, these partnerships offer much needed financing opportunities. Opponents contend there is often a loss of accountability, service and environmental quality.

A UBC briefing note by Karen Bakker offers a concise summary of the forms of private sector involvement in Canadian water supply utilities and outlines some key issues for Canadians to consider.

Her report is entitled, Canada and the New American Empire, Water Supply Privatization
The bibliography refers to many useful links and further publications exploring this issue, such as the National Guide to Sutainable Municipal Infrastructure.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Salmon Arm Water Group Makes Presentation

A presentation was made to Salmon Arm Municipal Council urging caution against private / public partnerships when dealing with their water utility. An exerpt from the article in the Salmon Arm Observer follows:

"....Ray Morris, speaking on behalf of Kairos, a national coalition of churches and religious organizations that includes local members of the Anglican, Lutheran, Roman Catholic and United churches, brought this message to Salmon Arm council's Nov. 14 meeting. Joining him was Kairos co-chair Mavourneen Reddecliff and spokesperson for the Catholic organization Development & Peace, Teresa McKerral.

Morris urged council to endorse a water declaration that has been supported by 185 Canadian municipalities.

It states: 1) Water is a sacred gift that connects all life; 2) Access to clean water is a basic human right; 3) The value of the Earth's fresh water to the common good takes priority over any possible commercial value; and 4) Fresh water is a shared legacy, a public trust and a collective responsibility.
He noted that the World Bank has usually made privatization a condition of its loans for water services, with strongly negative effects on local populations.

In Canada, he said the most dramatic example of privatization took place in Hamilton, Ont. In 1995, when city council turned its waterworks and sewage treatment operations over to a respected local waste management company. Within a year, half the city's water workers were laid off, he said. The following January, a huge sewage spill flooded 115 homes and businesses and sent 48 million gallons of untreated human waste into the harbour and then into Lake Ontario.

"Ownership of the water company changed hands five times in the first eight years," Morris stated, "and the city is understandably eager to get out of the 20-year contract it signed."
Morris spoke of several other national and international examples.

Morris asked that, at a time when Salmon Arm is going to upgrade its water treatment facilities, "we would urge you very strongly not to consider any form of public-private partnership as a way of raising the necessary capital or keeping the running expenses under control." ...."

Read the full article here...

Monday, November 27, 2006

Water Study Underway

The Okanagan Basin Water Board is in the midst of a $550, 000 Water Supply and Demand Study. The Board has issued a press release regarding this project. The expected completion date is 2008. To me, the findings of this supply and demand study are imperative to Summerland's decision whether or not to pursue an Okanagan Lake source solution to our water supply problems.

The Okanagan Water Stewardship Council is the "think tank" convened by the Okanagan Water Basin Board. Their 2006-07 Work Plan outlines this group's understanding of the water situation in the Okanagan, how it impacts the politics, economy, lifestyle and livability of all residents and a set of proposed topics to cover in discussion. The Council has outlined that "the goal of each discussion should be to share information and highlight potential areas of conflict that need resolution; as well as to identify existing knowledge gaps and feasible actions to move forward".

Friday, November 24, 2006

Convening for Action in the South Okanagan

The RDOS has identified the availability and quality of water as the number one concern of South Okanagan residents. The Water Sustainability Committee of the BC Water and Waste Association initiated a program entitled, Convening for Action in the South Okanagan. This program played a role in bringing together people with knowledge and expertise with those who seek ways to meet present and future water sustainablity challenges in their communities. The purpose of this initiative was to deliver a process where everyone had a chance to speak, see their opinions recorded and be proactively engaged to focus on results. This initiative took place in February 2005 in collaboration with the Town of Oliver.
The Report entitled Moving Towards a Water Balance Way of Thinking and Acting in the South Okanagan is available here...

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Grants for Citizen Action on Water

The Walter & Duncan Gordon Foundation, a Canadian registered charitable foundation, has initiated a Fresh Water Resources Protection Programme, including grant funding for eligible projects. This Foundation, dedicated "to the development of sound and innovative public policies, has put in place a grant program to support the development of a comprehensive legal, regulatory, and citizen action framework for the purpose of protecting the quality and quantity of fresh water resources for future generations of Canadians. "
The funding they provide through the Fresh Water Resources Protection programme has 3 objectives: Sustainable Watershed Governance, Groundwater Conservation and Transboundary Water Security.
This initiative is worth further investigation by dedicated groups and individuals across Canada.