Okanagan Basin Water Board

Posted December 2005

Courtesy of South East Kelowna Irrigation District

The Okanagan Basin Water Board (OBWB) was formed in the mid-seventies to provide a basin-wide perspective on water resource management in the valley. Three directors from each of the three regional districts serving the Okanagan Basin are appointed to the board.

The main focus of the board over the past thirty years has been milfoil management in area lakes and providing grants to local municipalities for sewage treatment infrastructure. Both programs have been highly effective.

Recently, the OBWB has undertaken the most significant change in its thirty-year history. The three Okanagan Valley Regional District Boards have unanimously approved modifications to the procedures of the OBWB. These changes are intended to enable the board to expand its focus to include a variety of regional water resource management issues.

Changes to the water board include permission to approve its own annual budget for a three-year period. The board will increase its tax requisition by a maximum of two cents per thousand assessed value, which will provide about $425,000 annually of additional funding. The board will administer a Water Conservation and Water Quality Improvements Initiatives Program. About $300,000 will be allocated annually to water conservation and quality projects proposed by the regional districts. Grants will range from $3,000 to $30,000.

The board will also hire additional staff as required to administer the new programs, and a new Okanagan Water Stewardship Council will be formed to provide technical advice and to act in an advisory capacity to the board. The council will be a consensus-based board made up of government, private sector, and non-government members to identify basin-wide water issues and recommend workable solutions.

Finally, the OBWB will appoint three additional members to the board, bringing the total to twelve. New board members will be appointed from First Nations, the Water Supply Association of B.C., and from the newly formed Okanagan Water Stewardship Council.

For more information, contact the OBWB at 250-550-3773 or Greg.Armour@nord.ca