City agrees to fund watershed program

The successor to the Shuswap Lake Integrated Planning Process (SLIPP) continues to move forward

The successor to the Shuswap Lake Integrated Planning Process (SLIPP) continues to move forward with the City of Salmon Arm contributing $20,000 towards the multi-government effort.

Last week, council authorized paying the budgeted $20,000 into the new Shuswap Watershed Council, making the city a voting partner.

This means Salmon Arm will be joining other signatories, the Columbia Shuswap Regional District and the Thompson-Nicola Regional District in a new program that will focus on water quality throughout the region’s watershed.

Couns. Marg Kentel and Alan Harrison had attempted to tie the funding to a caveat that a portion of it go towards water quality testing along the Salmon River – one of the water bodies identified by SLIPP as a concern due to relatively high phosphorous levels.

This, however, was voted down by the rest of council. Coun. Chad Eliason said the group’s focus is the entire watershed and, though the Salmon River is important, the city should begin micromanaging their mandate.

“I think the people putting in the water testing stations are professionals, I think they’ve done it so they’ve maximized bang for their buck in co-ordinating all those things,” said Eliason.

The water council’s first year is being described as a “developmental year.” Between April and December 2014, the organization will be developing terms of reference and a strategic plan for a new water quality program that will commence Jan. 1, 2015. At that point, the council intends to have prepared a longterm water-quality program, a water-quality remediation program, a safety education program and a communications strategy.

However, city council was critical of the “safety education” component. Harrison didn’t think this should be a mandate for the group, that they’d be better off focusing on water quality and letting other government agencies worry about safety.