From Highlands to Valley Floor
What is the Okanagan Basin?
A river basin or watershed is high at its edges and low in the centre where the waters flow. The Okanagan Basin includes all the land that feeds water to the big lakes. Kelowna, Vernon, Penticton, and Osoyoos all lie within the Okanagan Basin. The Okanagan River drains the lakes and flows south across the International Boundary as a small tributary to the Columbia River.
Where does water from the Okanagan Basin go?
Okanagan Basin water flows into the Columbia River, past the city of Portland, to the Pacific Ocean.
From highlands to valley floor
The Okanagan Valley is a great trough that cuts across the highlands of southern British Columbia. These forested highlands are the largest part of the basin and are the source of most of the basin’s water. In addition to outdoor recreation, forestry and cattle grazing are important in the highlands.
The valley is a busy place!
The Okanagan Valley consists of the main lakes, valley bottom, benchlands, and surrounding slopes. Most of the population live down on the valley bottom or on the surrounding benchlands in Kelowna, Vernon, Penticton, and other major centres. The valley contains lakes, agriculture and wineries, tourist facilities and golf courses, and industry, as well as wetland ecosystems, species at risk, and endangered habitat. With all these competing uses, communities need to plan their growth carefully.