Water Sustainability Action Plan releases report on “Water-Centric Planning in Oliver”




Desired Outcome: Beneficial Balance

“In 2005, we created the beneficial balance graphic to help Okanagan communities visualize how to address challenging priorities for land and water. The three circles represent core concepts emerging from the discussion of settlement, economic growth and water supply pressures. We define the intersection of these circles as the beneficial balance,” stated Tim Pringle, Executive Director of the Real Estate Foundation of British Columbia.

“The notion of the beneficial balance is especially relevant to the Oliver situation where a single waterworks system serves both the Town of Oliver and the surrounding agricultural lands. This communication tool provided the backdrop for a working session in Oliver in March 2006. We subsequently released a report which synthesized the workshop outcomes,” adds Kim Stephens, Program Coordinator for the Water Sustainability Plan for British Columbia.


Executive Summary

Under the Action Plan umbrella for advancing on-the-ground initiatives, the purpose in Convening for Action in the South Okanagan is to inform governments and others by engaging with “communities of interest and place” on the topic of water stewardship and sustainability. What has been learned through the Town of Oliver case study experience is synthesized as folllows in the Executive Summary:


Context for Working Session

Section 1 introduces the convergence of local, regional and provincial interests that provided the impetus for organizing a ‘water-centric working session’ in the Town of Oliver on March 30, 2006.

There is a myriad of water and related initiatives underway in the Okanagan. Thus, a goal of the Convening for Action program is to ‘connect the dots’ and thereby help bring these initiatives into alignment…so that they can meet the water-centric needs of communities.


Design of Working Session

Section 2 then describes how the March 2006 working session was designed. Brainstorming themes are introduced and the set of desired outcomes in convening for action are identified.

It was crucial that three elected officials were among the participants – at the end of the day, they are the ones who have the authority to act in the best interests of their constituents by making water-centric policy decisions.


What We Learned

Section 3 follows with a comprehensive synopsis of each brainstorming theme, with an emphasis on understanding what the two guiding principles below mean for the Town of Oliver and surrounding Rural Area:

The first principle means that agricultural water savings would not be used for residential purposes. The second principle anticipates that new development will be designed to use less water, and that over time existing development will reduce its use. 


Getting from “There to Here”

Section 4 concludes with a list of ten incremental steps that will help guide the Town and the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen on their journey to get from “there to here” along the soft path to water sustainability.

Ensuring a safe and adequate water supply depends on understanding the science behind the Water OUT = Water IN equation, as well as understanding what this means operationally on the ground.


To Learn More:

To download a copy of the report that synthesizes the working sessions, click on this link: Water-Centric Planning in Oliver: Dealing with Uncertainty & Managing Risk