Kettle River Watershed Management Plan

The Regional District of Kootenay Boundary (RDKB) has now endorsed and released Kettle River Watershed Management Plan. The Plan is a collaborative initiative supported by a Stakeholder Advisory Group with participation from local and provincial governments and representatives from multiple sectors and organizations from across the Boundary region. Over the last three years, the RDKB and the Advisory Group have: developed a shared understanding of watershed issues; created a vision, goals and strategies to take care of the Kettle River watershed into the future; shared information widely; and learned from a broad network of interested stakeholders.

CoverCurrent Version (1.0.1)

This Plan presents a vision for the Kettle River watershed that is drawn from this understanding: “We envision a healthy, resilient and sustainable Kettle River Watershed, which functions to meet the needs and values of its communities, who in turn act as stewards of the watershed.” The vision forms the foundation for nine goals affirming healthy aquatic ecosystems, safe and secure water supplies, and a reliable water system supporting a sustainable economy and local food system.

A number of challenges exist to achieving these goals, including high water use and broad, interacting ‘cumulative impacts’ from resource development, urban and rural development, industry, agriculture, and recreation activities. Together, these impacts further affect low river flows, surface and ground water quality, and habitat for fish and aquatic ecosystems. Underlying these challenges are constraints on understanding by both the public and decision makers, conflicting priorities and gaps in regulations and policy support, and a lack of resources and capacity in resource management agencies, local governments, and stewardship organizations.

This Plan answers these challenges by presenting four broad strategies containing eighteen directions for management and fifty-nine actions to be undertaken by stakeholders in collaboration over the coming years. It builds on the analysis and discussions in the Phase 1 Technical Report and five issue-specific papers developed and shared in 2013 and 2014.

The first overall strategy, and the highest priority, is to increase community understanding, support and capacity for stewardship of the Kettle River watershed. This includes developing a governance and funding structure to implement the plan, growing understanding and awareness through a broad education and research strategy, and building skills and capacity to undertake the work.

The second strategy is to improve the quality, reliability and security of water supplies through the sustainable management of water supply and water quality, using applied research, monitoring, policies and technologies. The third strategy is to improve the health and function of the ecosystems that support the Kettle River and its communities, through supporting shoreline and riparian restoration, conservation planning, and beneficial practices in agriculture and resource management. The fourth strategy is to enhance the recreational, cultural and amenity values of the watershed, bringing people together to celebrate the stewardship of the watershed and the connections we all have to water.

The key to success of a watershed plan is the dedication and ability to carry out the actions. The Regional District of Kootenay Boundary Directors for the Boundary Electoral Areas have committed to funding coordination and leading the next three years of implementation. The work will be governed by an Implementation Team that is drawn from the Advisory Group and representatives of key organizations, and supported by a ‘Round Table’ committee that will periodically review progress and provide advice on plan implementation, review, and priorities for further work.

“We envision a healthy, resilient and sustainable Kettle River Watershed, which functions to meet the needs and values of its communities, who in turn act as stewards of the watershed.”

How we made the plan: the Kettle River Watershed Committee met in 2010 to create a Terms of Reference for the project, and the Regional District contracted Summit Environmental to conduct a “State of the Watershed” technical assessment. A Technical Advisory Committee with representatives from multiple agencies and organizations (membership) supported Phase 1 of the plan.

With the Phase 1 study complete, the Regional District started Phase 2 of the plan in May of 2012. The Stakeholder Advisory Group has worked closely with the Steering Committee, Project Coordinator and the Regional District to give advice on goals, issues, and strategies. The Advisory Group also acted as the hub for public involvement for Phase 2 (May 2012-November 2014).

Key documents:

We previously released a series of discussion papers to provide ideas and options to be included in the watershed management plan. These papers build on a basin-wide survey of water issues, needs and values that provided a foundation for the goals and strategies we will consider. The purpose of these discussion papers was to help the citizens of the Boundary and other stakeholders become better informed about the challenges affecting the Kettle River watershed and better able to participate in developing and implementing solutions.

1 Towards the Kettle River Watershed Management Plan: A Vision for the Kettle River Watershed. Presents an overview of goals, challenges, and potential strategies (September 4, 2013)
2 Working together: Growing our capacity for Watershed Stewardship in the Kettle River Watershed. Presents options for management, governance and decision making structures to ensure the vision, goals and strategies are implemented. (February 27, 2014)
3 Sustaining the flow: managing water resources to improve quality, reliability and security of water supplies. Considers issues of water supply and demand including options for source-water protection, water storage, and water conservation. (July 2014)
4 Water Quality and Source Water Protection: Issues and Strategies in the Kettle River Watershed. (July 2014)
5 Stepping back from the water: Floodplain, riparian and wetland management. Identifies options for improving overall watershed health including riparian areas, wetlands, and floodplains. (September 2014)