A Wildfire Could Be Devastating for the Water Supply
If a major wildfire started in the Duteau Creek Community Watershed, there would be a high potential of long term economic, water quality, and water quantity impacts that would affect all Greater Vernon Water customers. This is why planning for the possibility of such an event, and identifying actions that can reduce the risk of wildfire near critical infrastructure are so important. To support this important prevention work, the RDNO was awarded $146,235 from the Forest Enhancement Society of British Columbia (FESBC) to create a Wildfire Mitigation Plan for the Duteau Creek Community Watershed.
This watershed is the source of water for tens of thousands of people, and a critical part of the Greater Vernon Water (GVW) water system that is valued at $743 million. Although GVW has an Emergency Response Plan to deal with immediate threats, this Wildfire Mitigation Plan will develop prevention strategies and an action plan for long term wildfire reduction within our watershed and help protect one of the region's most valuable assets.
"We don't often take a moment to think about where our water comes from. In the North and Central Okanagan, most of the water comes from forested watersheds or valley bottom lakes before it makes the long journey to our taps. If a wildfire were to reach these watersheds we could be in real trouble downstream," said Kevin Acton, Chair of the RDNO Board of Directors. "We are incredibly grateful to FESBC since this essential planning work would not have been possible without this financial and collaborative support."
FESBC awarded the funds to the RDNO, the District of Lake Country, Glenmore-Ellison Irrigation District, and Black Mountain Irrigation District since all of these water purveyors have watersheds within the same area known as the Aberdeen Plateau (east of Kalamalka, Wood and Ellison Lakes).
Although the four water purveyors submitted separate grant applications, FESBC recognized that wildfires know no jurisdictional boundaries, and noticed the similarities in the concerns listed by each purveyor. FESBC found that costs can be saved through a collaborative approach to planning for wildfires in neighbouring watersheds. The RDNO will host an information session about the Wildfire Mitigation Plan later this year.