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Water quality program moves ahead

The Shuswap Watershed Water Quality Program is one step closer to reality.

The program will take over where the Shuswap Lake Integrated Planning Process (SLIPP) left off, but in a very different way.

Whereas SLIPP, a three-year pilot project that ended March 31, dealt with a number of issues, the watershed program will deal specifically with two – water quality and safety.

During the remainder of this year, Fraser Basin Council will be working to develop the content of the program that is proposed to commence January 2015.

“There will be lots of public engagement,” says Mike Simpson, regional manager of the Fraser Basin Council, noting people will be given the opportunity to say whether they want the program.

The Columbia Shuswap Regional District meanwhile, awarded $50,000 to Leftside Partners to study the feasibility of establishing a Shuswap Watershed Water Quality Program.

CSRD directors approved the contract at the March 20 board meeting and are seeking a comprehensive evaluation of the issues relating to the establishment of a water quality program for Shuswap Lake, identifying participants, program management, governance, funding, service and delivery and other regulatory requirements and timing.

Partners with the regional district will remain much the same with the new program as they did with SLIPP: Thompson-Nicola Regional District, Regional District of the North Okanagan, the municipalities of Sicamous and Salmon Arm and the Shuswap Nation Tribal Council.

The transition added three new positions, says Simpson –  Salmon River Watershed Roundtable, the Lower Shuswap Stewardship Society and two technical reps, one from the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations and one from the Ministry of Agriculture.

Ray Nadeau will continue to represent the public at large as he did with SLIPP.

CSRD reps in the new program will be directors from Area C South Shuswap, D Falkland/Silver Creek/Ranchero, Area E Rural Sicamous and Area F North Shuswap.

“I am happy to see that there’s agreement to go forward and focus on water quality and safety,” says Electoral Area E director Rhona Martin. “I think the SLIPP process has provided us with some information that we can use to move forward with. I am hopeful we’ll get everybody at the table working towards these goals.”

Martin says that, in the long run, Shuswap residents can hope for a way to protect the local economy and lifestyle and the water in the watershed.

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