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Water briefs: Okanagan has voice in cross-border talks

Water board represented at International Joint Committee meeting
Decisions involving management of Osoyoos Lake impact both sides of the Canada-United States border shared watershed. (File photo)

The Okanagan had a voice at the semi-annual meeting of the International Joint Committee in Washington, DC last week.

Anna Warwick Sears, executive director of the Okanagan Basin Water Board, attended the meeting of the IJC, which investigates, monitors and recommends actions regarding the quality of water in lakes and rivers along the Canada-United States border.

The IJC comes into play in the water level control of Osoyoos Lake, which impacts both the Okanagan Valley and Washington State shared watershed.

Warwick Sears said IJC boards are expanding their original mandates beyond lake level or flow management to incorporate climate change-related extreme weather events that require cross-border solutions.

“I believe that the International Osoyoos Lake Board of Control will need to become more involved with things like the review and update of the Okanagan Lake Regulation System, because flows over the border may be affected, and having a broader mandate could be helpful,” said Warwick Sears in her report to the board.

“There may be significant new resources available if the Osoyoos board becomes an International Water Board….(and) would complement, not overlap with Okanagan Basin Water Board responsibility.”


The OBWB has entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with the Regional District of Central Okanagan, City of Kelowna, B.C. Ministry of Agriculture and Partnership for Water Sustainability BC to update the Agricultural Land Use Inventory for the Central Okanagan.

The inventory data is a set of map layers, identifying all crops grown in the region, and the type of irrigation system on each parcel or sub-parcel, as compiled by professional agrologists.

The data collected is an essential element to calculate potential water requirements.

The original inventory was done in 2006 and then updated in 2014.


Gwen Bridge, an environmental scientist and conservation advocate, gave a presentation on April 13 to the Water Stewardship Council on the relationship between scientific and Indigenous knowledge practitioners and the importance of collaboration.

Bridge elaborated on the concept of ‘ethic space,’ and how it fosters cultural safety by bridging the gap between Western and Indigenous cultures to effectively pursue reconciliation and shared understanding.


The 2023 Okanagan Water Supply Webinar takes place Tuesday, May 19, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The webinar will explore water supply issues in the Okanagan – reservoir levels, snowpack, groundwater, weather forecast and salmon returns.

For more information, contact Nelson Jatel at or call 250-469-6295.

READ MORE: Central Okanagan trustees vote themselves a raise

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