Steeves/Trail Mix: water is vital, in whatever form it comes

Celebrations of World Water Day are a reminder of how dry the Okanagan is, and how vital it is that we use it sensibly.

As this March sunrise over Okanagan Lake and Kelowna illustrates

The shape of water has changed this week, Canada Water Week, more than I would have expected for the first week of spring, but nonetheless, there seems to be lots of it around.

I guess I can only hope that at some point it warms up because this does not compare very favourably with the warmth of my recent winter holiday to the south.

However, the extra snow falling in our watershed will be very welcome later in the year when the hot sun bakes every drop of water from the parched ground; the fresh green grasses of spring have turned crispy and brown on the hills and the heat makes you want to go jump in the lake.

With the vernal equinox Tuesday, and a celebration of the U.N.-declared World Water Day as well, I realized the importance of what falls from the sky and appreciate that we should have more respect for it than many of us do—but I’d prefer at this point that it come down in liquid form here in the valley bottom.

I’ve no objection to snow falling in the hills around the valley. In fact, it seems like an excellent idea. That way we know where to go with our boards to have some fun and it’s stored well in Mother Nature’s vast freezer, to melt at a leisurely pace during spring and early summer, when we’ll need it down here as water to drink and grow food.

And, that was a point made repeatedly during water week discussions.

Very little food can be grown in this dry climate without water. Irrigation is essential for our survival.

Actually, water is vital for the survival of all living things, from the green ones that sprout out of moistened soil to the furry ones just waking from their winter naps in dens around the Okanagan, and the two-legged ones.  It’s the latter ones who keep filling in and paving over sources of water; re-directing it from its natural efforts to soak into the ground and often polluting it in the process.

But, it’s generally quantity that’s the biggest issue at this point here in the Okanagan, so we have been reminded many times this week of the importance of conserving what water we have by sprinkling less of it on our lawns.

There are alternatives to the water-hog grass varieties commonly used in turf. I planted a selection of drought-tolerant grasses a few years ago and they’re very soft on bare feet, but seem to require much less watering than traditional lawns.

The Okanagan Xeriscape Association has hundreds of suggestions of steps you can take to reduce your use of water on landscapes around your home. This spring’s courses also begin next week, under the able and passionate direction of Gwen Steele, our very own Okanagan native landscape guru.

For more information on both classes and xeriscape plants and techniques, go to the website at:

Incidentally, snow enthusiasts are invited to join the Kelowna Nordic Ski Club with the family and fill tummies for a toonie Saturday. Lunch of a hot dog or chili will be served in the main cabin from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. for two bucks. For location and club info, go to:

Hunting enthusiasts, or those who would like to become a hunter have a terrific opportunity to take the mandatory Conservation and Outdoor Recreation Education (CORE) course in a single, all-inclusive weekend, Mar. 30 through Apr. 1 at Maple Springs Bible Camp in Peachland, presented by the Peachland Sportsman’s Association.

If you’re interested, you must pre-register as soon as possible before all the spots are taken. Register on the web at:

Judie Steeves writes about outdoors issues for the Capital News.