Similkameen Valley Planning Society role in new watershed project

Misconceptions and confusion over the role of the Similkameen Valley Planning Society (SVPS) in the new Similkameen watershed project was debated during the public meeting on March 25.

The meeting was well attended with 37 people packed into the Keremeos Council Chambers including MLA John Slater.  Slater is now the Special Advisor for Water Stewardship in B.C. and says he’s still passionate about water in this province.

“I’m still the water boy,” he joked.

Dr. Hugh Hamilton was present to outline his intended work for the Similkameen watershed project.  The previous week, Hamilton had been appointed Principal Investigator and Project Manager for the team of technical experts who will be working on the initial phase of the project.  There are three main aims.  The first is to review and summarise what information exists on the watershed and identify the gaps.  This is important to ensure a complete, current picture of the watershed without spending time and expense on duplicating the excellent hydrological work that’s already been done in the valley.

The second step will be to review hydrological information in B.C. and other similar areas of the world and to look at the unique aspects of the Similkameen being an international river.

The final step will be to put forward a recommendation of the scope of future hydrological and other investigations needed for a science based water management plan for the entire Similkameen valley.

Hamilton’s work is being funded by a $15,000 grant, managed by the SVPS who, even though they have elected representatives as directors, is a non-legislative, impartial body concerned with the welfare of the valley as a whole including the Lower Similkameen and Upper Similkameen Indian Bands.

Brad Hope, SVPS Chair, stressed the objective of the study is to have a science based management plan involving all parties concerned with the Similkameen watershed.

“So when we have to make decisions, we’re making good decisions with all stakeholders involved,” said Hope.  “We’re dealing with a limited resource and we’re all stakeholders.”

Although the report deadline has not been set, it is anticipated that it will be finished by the summer.  At that point there will be further public meetings for input.  In the meantime, this is a community project and everyone can help by providing data that they think is of importance to this process.  Please send your informational emails to Brad Hope at bhope@nethop.net.