Kettle River Q&A for Sept. 5: Looking forward to crafting solutions

Kettle River Watershed Project Coordinator explains next step is a discussion of solutions for the issues & challenges identified so far.

“How is that watershed plan coming along?”

I’m hearing that question a lot lately. I’m happy to hear that people are interested, and know that we need to keep everyone in the loop about progress towards the watershed management plan.

We are entering an exciting phase as the Stakeholder Advisory Group is beginning to discuss solutions to the watershed issues and challenges identified over the last several months.

We will be releasing several short “discussion papers” on the website over the coming months to help the citizens of the Boundary and other stakeholders become better informed about the challenges affecting the Kettle River watershed, and better able to participate in developing and implementing solutions.

The first paper, “A Vision for the Kettle River Watershed,” includes a draft vision and goals for the Kettle River watershed, a summary of watershed management challenges, and an overview of potential strategies for achieving the goals. It is available on our website at http://kettleriver.ca.

It is the first of several papers that will propose strategies and actions to be included in the watershed management plan, which will be finalized in 2014.

The advisory group recognizes the vital importance of reliable, quality water and healthy aquatic ecosystems for our communities, and recommends the following draft vision statement: “We envision a healthy, resilient and sustainable Kettle River watershed, that functions to meet community needs and values, and communities that act as stewards of the watershed.”

This vision statement is accompanied by three overarching goals:

1) Healthy aquatic ecosystems sustain native biodiversity and aquatic life;

2) Safe & secure water supports healthy communities; and

3) Reliable, quality water supplies support a sustainable economy and food system.

We recognize that there are many challenges to meeting these goals. For instance, naturally low flows in late summer are made worse by high water use. Changes in the climate and land use are affecting the reliability of water supplies and aquatic ecosystem health.

We know that cumulative changes within the watershed impair water quality, aquatic ecosystems, and recreational and other values that are important to Boundary businesses and citizens. We also know that our communities and organizations are not strong enough, in terms of money, human resources, and governance, to respond effectively to challenges across the Kettle River Watershed.

So what can we do—as communities, businesses and individuals— to respond to the challenges we have in the Kettle River watershed?

As a starting point, we propose four strategic directions:

1) Increase community understanding, support and capacity for stewardship;

2) Improve the quality, reliability and security of water supplies through sustainable management of water resources;

3) improve watershed health and function; and

4) Maintain or enhance recreational, cultural and amenity values.

Forthcoming discussion papers will expand on these themes and identify options and actions to be undertaken by the RDKB, other stakeholders and citizens of the Boundary. We look forward to receiving your input on this process at with the public that will be held throughout the Boundary this fall.

Graham Watt is project co-ordinator of the Kettle River Watershed Management Plan, Regional District of Kootenay Boundary. Ask Watt watershed questions at plan@kettleriver.ca. Figures and footnotes are included online at http:// kettleriver.ca – look for the link in the menu to “Kettle River Q&A.