Protection site

Okanagan Water Protection Projects

As the Okanagan continues to grow and the impacts of climate change
continue to challenge the availability of sufficient clean water in the region, the Okanagan
Basin Water Board announced funding for several projects to help address these issues.
“By protecting the waters we have and finding better ways to do so, our valley will be in a much better place.
position to weather whatever comes our way – floods, droughts and wildfires,” explained James Littley,
OBWB Operations and Grants Manager.

In total, the Water Board (OBWB) has approved funding of $350,000 for 15 projects through its Water
Conservation and Quality Improvement (WCQI) Grant Scheme.

One of the innovative projects funded this year is the City of Kelowna’s Snow Storage Location Risk Assessment.
Currently, the city stores urban snow in four locations with various conditions (e.g., paved/unpaved,
connected/not connected to city storm sewer, close/not close to environmentally sensitive areas). The city
proposes to sample the four sites for pollutants such as metals, tire-derived contaminants, etc., which
could harm surface water, groundwater and soil. The study will also include recommendations that will be
shared with other local governments in the Okanagan. “This could be an easy win for the water,” noted Littley.

Another project funded this year is the “Source Water Quality Sampling in Deep
Stream.” Historically, this stream has been heavily stressed due to agricultural production and runoff. This
project will sample water quality at various sites along the creek before and after the spring melt and also
sample for aquatic invertebrate diversity to measure ecosystem health. The municipality will also work with
individual landowners to refine water health requirements. Instead of using law enforcement and
compliance, the board noted that this project focuses on working collaboratively with people to protect the
water in their backyards and on their farms, helping to ensure better water quality as it flows south through
the rest of the valley.

Another project, which received a second year of funding, is “Assessing Microplastics in Okanagan
Lake” from Seven in the Ocean. Last year, the first phase of the project collected surface water samples in Kelowna and
at the Kelowna Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) and discovered microplastics. Phase 2 will extend
sampling on Okanagan Lake and includes groundwater and sediment sampling in Vernon, Kelowna,
Peachland, Summerland and Penticton, as well as continued water sampling at the Kelowna sewage treatment plant. The goal
is to collect enough data to inform strategies for reducing microplastics in the environment. “As we try to
reduce plastic pollution, it is important to understand the extent and source of the problem, helping to drive
solutions to fix it,” Littley said.

Since the program began in 2006, and with this latest award of 15 grants worth $350,000, the board has
has now provided 315 grants to Okanagan nonprofits, First Nations, local governments and irrigation districts,
is worth over $5.47 million. in total. These projects had combined budgets of over $37.5 million.
towards improving water in the Okanagan.

For a full list of projects funded this year and more information on each, please see below. For more information on projects funded over the past 16 years, visit our WCQI database at https://www.obwb.ca/wcqi_project/.