Water Science Forum to discuss sustainability of Osoyoos Lake

OSOYOOS,BC – The 2011 Osoyoos Lake Water Science Forum is scheduled to take place atthe Sonora Community Centre in Osoyoos, B.C. Sept. 18 to 20.
The theme of the conference is “Shared water, shared future: bridges to sustainability forOsoyoos Lake.” The Okanagan Basin Water Board (OBWB), the Town of Osoyoos, theInternational Joint Commission (IJC) and several other partners are presentingthe forum. It will cover numerous water issues affecting B.C.’s Okanagan Valleyand in neighboring Okanogan County in Washington State. Milfoil control, whichhas recently been in the news, will be discussed, including efforts to controlthe invasive weed in Osoyoos Lake on both sides of the border.
Electedofficials on both sides of the border of Osoyoos Lake, as well as water utilitystaff – who deliver water, scientists and local citizens – are signing up toattend the forum, according to organizers. The forum opens at the Nk’Mip DesertCultural Centre on Sunday, Sept. 18 at 5 p.m. with welcoming remarks from StuWells, head of the OBWB and Mayor of Osoyoos. These remarks are followed by awine and cheese social. Nk’Mip Desert Cultural Centre is located at Nk’MipResort, about 1.5 miles east of Osoyoos off Highway 3. Driving eastbound turnleft at 45th Street and follow the resort signs.
On Monday, Sept. 19 theforum moves to the Sonora Community Centre, 8505 68th Avenue. The eventsplanned for Monday and Tuesday begin at 8 a.m.
“I am excited that theforum is taking place again this year,” said Mayor Wells. “I hope to see lotsof interested people attending from both sides of the border.”
Currently,lake levels on Osoyoos Lake are controlled by the Washington State Departmentof Ecology through the operation of Zosel Dam in accordance with OperatingOrders issued by the International Joint Commission (IJC) and overseen by thecommission’s International Osoyoos Lake Board of Control. The Board of Controlis made up of U.S. and Canadian representatives. According to the OBWB, theorders expire in February 2013 Ð 25 years after the completion of the dam Ð andthe forum is being held to help gather public input in preparation for therenewal of operating orders.
“It’s a critical meeting,” said John Slater,Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) for Boundary Similkameen in B.C. andformer chair of the OBWB. Slater will be providing opening remarks along withWashington State Senator Bob Morton.
“Water is the one limiting resourceto human settlement, industry and commercial growth. We know with populationgrowth, agricultural growth and climate change, we’re going to have to be morecareful with our water use and concerned with keeping what we have clean,” saidSlater.
“Water is a big issue for us here in Central Washington,” saidSen. Morton, noting the need for increased water storage. “We’re in a statewhere some of our main aquifers will be out of water in 10 years.”
Mortonsees a potential dam on the Similkameen River, helping retain water inWashington, as another solution to the state’s water concerns.
“It’sobvious we need to address this issue and the sooner the better,” Morton said.
The forum is being offered at a discount to residents of Oroville,Osoyoos and Oliver, with some portions being free. On-site registration willalso be available at the forum. For details please visit www.obwb.ca/olwsf/.