Okanagan officials urge water conservation amid drought – Okanagan

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Despite cooler temperatures and some rain this week, the Okanagan is still recovering from last year’s extreme drought.

Local mayors, fire chiefs and industry partners gathered Thursday at Lakestone Villas in Lake Country to urge residents to practice water conservation ahead of wildfire season.

“We have known for years that there have been concerns when it comes to the Okanagan’s water supply,” said Corinne Jackson of the Okanagan Basin Water Board.

“The fact that we have less water available per person than anywhere else in Canada and yet our population continues to grow.”


Click to play video: 'The Okanagan prepares for an extremely dry summer season'


The Okanagan are preparing for the potential of an extremely dry summer season


The location of Thursday’s press conference was no coincidence. Officials say this was chosen because Lakestone is an example of a community that is smart about water and fire.

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When a wildfire came dangerously close to the neighborhood last year, homes in Lakestone Villas were not damaged.

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“If you look around you can see from the trees all around us, in front of us, behind us and to the side… the fire was burning all over this area, but it wasn’t burning here,” said Lake Mayor Blair Ireland Country.

Around the homes in Lakestone Villas, tree branches have been moved up approximately 6 feet, creating a 100-foot buffer.

Fire safety was also taken into account in the homes themselves.

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“All homes have some type of concrete siding, double-paned windows and a non-combustible roof,” Lake Country Fire Chief Darren Lee said.

“And the planting around the house, there’s nothing within those first few meters around the house and it’s all concrete patios.”


Click to play video: 'Drought concerns lead to flooding for Kelowna farmers'


Drought concerns are causing farmers in Kelowna to experience flooding


This comes as the Okanagan Basin Water Board’s Okanagan WaterWise program prepares to launch their annual water campaign called ‘Make Water Work’.

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Mayors, city partners and fire chiefs pledged Thursday to work to make the water work better this summer.

“As we experience warmer and drier summers and our population increases, the importance of being smart about water and fire becomes very important,” says Jackson.

“We are very proud to continue our commitment to Okanagan residents being water-wise in Canada’s most water-stressed region.”

Make Water Work is a valley-wide conservation initiative designed to help residents reduce their summer water use.

Residents can pledge online to ‘make water work smarter’. The community with the most pledges becomes the Make Water Work Champion Community.


Click to play video: 'Concerns about fruit growing during Okanagan drought'


Concerns about fruit growing during Okanagan drought


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