The south end of Okanagan Lake. (File photo)

Funding sought for Okanagan Lake management study

Okanagan Basin Water Board pushing for water level regulatory review

The initial steps in updating the Okanagan Lake water level management plan continue to progress forward, reports the executive director to the Okanagan Basin Water Board (OBWB).

In her report to the board for its Jan. 28 meeting, Anna Warwick Sears said work continues on the lake level management report, titled “Gap Analysis and Recommendations of studies needed to update the Okanagan Lake Regulation System and its Operating Plan.”

“This is the first step in the process for a potential change to how the lake is managed. The report is expected to be completed in March 2021,” said Warwick Sears in her report.

“We anticipate extensive collaboration with Okanagan Nation and consultation with different sectors. As discussed last month, we will be working with the Okanagan local governments to raise the awareness of this issue within the provincial government and the need for ongoing funding to do the studies that arise from the gap analysis.”

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The emphasis on changing how the Okanagan Lake levels are managed was started by Peachland council last fall, which endorsed a resolution to address existing management protocols which are resulting in thousands of dollars damage in infrastructure damage during spring flooding.

The water board has since taken up Peachland’s initial cause, engaging with other communities and the Okanagan Nation Alliance for support in the review process.

In December, Warwick Sears says the OBWB was given approval to submit applications to the National Disaster Mitigation Program, funded by Emergency Management BC and Public Safety Canada, for a grant deadline of Jan. 7, 2021.

“We submitted two applications, one for Flood Risk Mapping, to add additional information to the lakeshore floodplain maps, and one for Nearshore Bathymetry Mapping – topographical maps for the portions of the shoreline that are normally underwater,” said Warwick Sears.

“There is another grant intake for flood-resilience projects through the Community Emergency Preparedness Fund (CEPF) on Feb. 26, and we are happy to support the applications of Okanagan communities,” added Warwick Sears, noting the OBWB is not eligible to apply for that particular grant.

READ MORE: Addressing conflicts in Okanagan Lake management

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