Mara Lake is one of the significant water resources across the Okanagan-Shuswap region that will fall under increasing sustainability pressure as the anticipated population growth for the region continues in this century. (File photo)

Story by Barry Gerding, Vernon Morning Star

Osoyoos Mayor Sue McKortoff will serve a third consecutive term as chair of the Okanagan Basin Water Board (OBWB).

She will be joined by vice-chair Cindy Fortin, mayor of Peachland, and Okanagan Valley regional district board representatives Victor Cumming, Rick Fairbairn and Bob Fleming, RDNO; James Baker and Colin Basran, RDCO; and Doug Holmes and Rick Knodel, RDSO.

Other water board appointees are Westbank First Nation Chief Chris Derickson, representing the Okanagan Nation Alliance; Bob Hrasko, Water Supply Association of B.C.; and Denise Neilson, Okanagan Water Stewardship Council chair.

McKortoff called the OBWB a “one of a kind” water management advisory body in Canada, for taking a lead role in water issues facing the valley, from the need to monitor and protect local waters from invasive mussels to future management of the Okanagan Lake water level.

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“The theme of one of our last meetings was one valley, one water, and that about sums it up,” she said.

McKortoff said the OBWB provides a sounding board for understanding conflicting issues among communities regarding water concerns and how to find solutions.

One of those issues the board has embraced is the water level management of Okanagan Lake after concerns were initially raised about infrastructure damage caused by flooding under the current policies by the Peachland council last year.

‘The OBWB has sent letters to all our Okanagan municipalities asking them to write letters to the province about concerns they have concerning the regulation policies for Okanagan Lake. If we all speak as one it gives us a stronger message for the provincial government,” McKortoff said.

“People in the federal and provincial governments don’t always share the urgency we have in many cases as we do because we live it.”

She said OBWB has also been involved with preliminary forums taking place concerning a promise by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to establish the Canada Water Agency, with the hope it will standardize water preservation and safety management regulations across Canada.

While COVID will have an impact, McKortoff said the water board also is planning to host a water science forum in Osoyoos for this fall, following up on successful similar events that were held in 2007, 2011 and 2015.