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upon thousands of urban residents,
many lured to the valley by the beauty
could be used to solve the problem of
of whole hillsides decorated with clouds
infrastructure costs, and the delivery of
of blossoms each spring and the bounty
water could be in private hands.
watershed,” she said.
“There are different issues in each
of crisp and colourful apples and
cherries, sweet peaches and apricots,
their irrigation design makes them
Growers, she says, should ensure Oliver, have already twinned their water
While some communities, such as
luscious grapes and wines.
efficient users of water. “Do the best on
delivery systems, others, including the
your own land,” she advises.
South East Kelowna Irrigation District
(SEKID) and the Glenmore-Ellison
farming needs for the water in this
And today, they compete with
near-desert climate.
the governance of the irrigation districts
Then, growers should get involved in Improvement District are still in the
or water providers and make sure water
discussion stage.
no rain fell all summer, the temperature
It all came to a head in 2003, when committees are formed to advise local
soared and the big lake down the
councils or regional districts, and that
chairman of SEKID and points out that
Cherry grower David Stirling is
middle of the valley didn’t refill with the
those include farmers.
wherever there is agricultural land there
melting snow.
First nations must also be involved, to
are many connections to pay for
develop that relationship, she said.
upgrades to the system, which means it
could put an undue financial burden on
reservoirs were drawn right down and
In Summerland, the upland
the council decided the community had
to take water from the fish in Trout
Creek in order to give it to humans,
creating consternation at higher levels
of government.
and environment committee of the B.C.
Denise MacDonald, chair of the water
Fruit Growers’ Association, is an
orchardist in Summerland, and
comments, “It’s ironic because we have
a huge watershed in our backyard.”
for development in the small
She’s concerned about the huge push
community and points out that the
Okanagan is completely reliant on
irrigation water because of the lack of
could be affordability down the road
“The issue is quantity now, but it
because of the competition for it, and
because of the demand for high-quality,
treated water for domestic use.”
raised its dam on Thirsk Lake and
Already, although Summerland has
instituted a number of water
conservation measures since the
drought of 2003, it’s also had to
upgrade water treatment and is now
having to look at the possibility of
twinning its water delivery
infrastructure, dividing the agricultural
from the domestic.
expensive, heavily-treated surface water
Otherwise, large quantities of
are used to irrigate crops that have no
need for that quality of water, in order
that urban residents can receive it too.
the land use in Summerland is
MacDonald notes that 35 per cent of
agriculture, and she’s concerned the
price of irrigation water will become too
high to just water plants.
money used is for the common good; to
“People have to be clear that the
maintain our foodlands,” she
public/private partnerships, or P3s,
Another concern is that
British Columbia FRUIT GROWER • Spring 2009
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