Everyone can see that the Kettle River is high this spring from the flooding at City Park to the rushing water under the black train bridge. In fact, the river has been running more than twice as high as the 86-year average recorded by the US Geological Survey for March and April, 2016. Right – City Park, Grand Forks, BC (David Dunnet)
Despite above average water runoff, the possibility of drought this summer is still high. Both the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) and the North American Space Agency (NASA) have released data showing that globally, March 2016 was the hottest on record. Not only has March beat the record for temperature, so had January 2016 and February 2016. Even if you don’t believe that climate change is occurring, these results are troubling and both point to a hot and dry summer. To read more about this, go to: http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/apr/15/march-temperature-smashes-100-year-global-record
If temperatures remain high and rainfall remains minimal, we must consider the possibility of drought. A striking example was in 2003 where there were above average levels of water in the Kettle River in the spring but as high temperatures and low rainfall persisted throughout the summer, a drought was experienced partnered with a large number of forest fires, particularly around Kelowna. This is a lesson that cannot be forgotten. Although there are high water levels now, we cannot depend on that to continue throughout the summer.
Here at the Kettle River Watershed Management level, we are beginning to work on a drought management plan that will include input from local government water suppliers (e.g. City of Grand Forks, City of Greenwood, Village of Midway, Christina Lake). The water suppliers have agreed that this will be a useful tool for managing drought as a team. Also, this team agrees that education is the main area that should be focused on to conserve water and minimize the impacts of future droughts.
Education and water conservation starts with every citizen, farmer, and business owner. Everyone can help conserve water. If watering your garden or lawn, do so at night or in the early morning (60% of water can be lost to evaporation if using sprinklers to water during the day, which equals 6L lost and only 4L making onto your lawn!); collect and use rain water; install and use drip irrigation to water your gardens and trees; and/or replace your grass with drought resistant evergreens and plants.
Every action that we take to conserve water and protect the river will be appreciated by generations to come. Should the City of Grand Forks Councillors have decided to remove the Level 2 water restrictions? Only time will tell. Conserve water and pray for rain.
Your new Kettle River Watershed Management Coordinator, Jessica Mace.
On April 19 in Westbridge BC, the Okanagan Nation Alliance and the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary will be hosting a special forum on protecting the headwaters of the Kettle River watershed and other regional watersheds.
Spearheaded by the ONA Natural Resources Committee and the Implementation Advisory Group of the Kettle River Plan, this forum will enable Syilx water leaders and community members from the Okanagan Nation Alliance, the RDKB, and many other organizations to come together to share knowledge and explore solutions to challenges in headwater management.
We are looking for a broad cross section of the community with an interest in watershed health and protection, including government, industry, agriculture, recreation and stewardship groups to participate in this collaborative and proactive event.
The morning sessions will include presentations from Syilx leadership, traditional knowledge keepers and ONA staff on Okanagan worldviews, use and stewardship of the lands and waters, drawing on both the Syilx Water Declaration and ONA’s siwlkw Water Strategy.
There will also be a presentation on the implementation of the Kettle River Watershed Management Plan (KRWMP) and the SIBAC-funded Kettle River Watershed Riparian Threat Assessment.
The afternoon sessions will include exploratory dialogue between participants on headwaters issues.
These facilitated sessions will identify collaborative solutions for key challenges and opportunities for resource development, source-water protection, water storage, and recreation and amenity development.
These discussions will lead to development of an action plan to be shared with participants and the public.
Real sustainable development depends on empowered networks of community members building a shared understanding the health and function of the ecosystems we depend on.
Undertaking this fundamental challenge will ultimately lead to more resilient communities that provide economic opportunities and quality of life over the long term.
We look forward to having your participation at the event!
WHEN: Tuesday, 19 April 2016 from 9:30 AM to 4:00 PM (PDT) – Add to Calendar
WHERE: Westbridge Community Hall – Westbridge Hall Road, Westbridge, BC V0H 2B0, Canada –View Map
To respond, please register at https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/sustaining-our-headwaters-forum-tickets-22468418645
More and more science is finding the importance of protecting headwater streams for aquatic ecosystem health, biodiversity, and downstream water quality and drinking water protection. In this research note, USDA Forest Service ecologists examined the effect of variable-width buffers greater than 50 ft (15.24 m) on non-fish-bearing streams. This has implications for improving stream protection in our active forestry areas, where there is very little protection for small streams and wetlands.
Since the Northwest Forest Plan implemented riparian buffers along non-fish bearing streams in 1994, there have been questions about how wide those buffers need to be to protect aquatic and riparian resources from upland forest management activities. The Density Management and Riparian Buffer Study of western Oregon, also initiated in 1994, examines the effects of thinning and different buffer widths on aquatic and riparian vertebrates and habitats, tree growth, and vegetation along headwater streams.
Dede Olson, a research ecologist with the Pacific Northwest Research Station, leads the riparian component of the study. Olson and her colleagues found that aquatic and riparian species and habitat were retained with no-entry, 50-foot minimum variable-width buffers.
Their research has characterized both aquatic and terrestrial amphibian assemblages that rely on headwater streams and near-stream riparian forest habitats. For example, they documented that terrestrial salamanders have heightened movements within 50 feet of headwater streams. By extending such buffers along headwater streams over ridgelines, landscape connectivity could be provided, enabling gene flow among populations of terrestrial salamanders.
Scientists found that thinning upslope accelerated growth of trees within the buffer within 50 feet from the thinned edge. Larger trees ultimately lead to larger pieces of down wood, which form critical habitat both on land and in streams
From POLIS Water Sustainability Project: Last week, the WSP released the new research report Awash with Opportunity: Ensuring the Sustainability of British Columbia’s New Water Law.
Authored by POLIS researchers Oliver M. Brandes, Savannah Carr-Wilson, Deborah Curran, and Rosie Simms, the report outlines what is needed to put the “sustainable” in the Water Sustainability Act.
With the new Water Sustainability Act replacing the 106-year-old Water Act in 2014, British Columbia has a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to modernize its freshwater legislation and usher in a new era of water stewardship. The Water Sustainability Act has many promising features that can better protect the province’s fresh water. Yet full implementation of the new Act hinges on passing critical supporting regulations that will provide the necessary details to make the Act fully functional.
Awash with Opportunity: Ensuring the Sustainability of British Columbia’s New Water Law provides a timely analysis of the Water Sustainability Act and its core regulations required for it to reach its full potential as a comprehensive and modern water law. It offers clear recommendations based on leading international practices in five key areas:
- Environmental flows,
- Monitoring and reporting,
- Water objectives, and
- Planning and governance
British Columbia’s fresh water is under pressure from an array of threats, including climate change, population growth, and escalating and competing demands for water. Conflict and concern mounts as watersheds across the province show signs of stress and pressure from unprecedented droughts. Water quality degradation and skirmishes over water use increase the urgency to act.
A comprehensive water law regime that includes a fully implemented Water Sustainability Act and a full suite of supporting regulations is a necessary condition to ensure that future water challenges do not become debilitating water crises.
The report specifically offers the Provincial government the necessary advice and insights needed to move beyond crisis response toward a fresh partnership approach with shared roles and responsibilities to protect B.C.’s water resources—now and into the future.
For more information, see the November 16th front-page article in The Province, which discusses the Government’s recently announced water rates and the findings of the new report; Rosie Simm’s discussion of the new report with Victoria’s CFAX 1070 on November 21st, or the forthcoming article, written by the report’s co-authors, in the Winter 2015 issue of BCWWA’s Watermark magazine.
[from POLIS Project on Ecological Governance / Water Sustainability Project Fall Newsletter]