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Kettle River watershed planning to begin soon

Photo, Granby Wilderness Society
The Boundary region has come together over a common concern: the Kettle River. Over the last few years, residents of the Boundary have become more aware about the state of the Kettle River and its tributaries, especially with diminishing flows during the summer months and the quality of the water. The state of the watershed has in recent years also attracted the attention of those outside the basin, with the Outdoor Recreation Council of B.C. recently ranking the Kettle River the most endangered river in B.C. because of seasonal low flows and new and existing water extraction proposals and licenses.
 
ln light of these concerns, the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary (RDKB) is initiating a watershed management planning process to work with residents of the Boundary, other stakeholders, and government agencies to develop a strategy aimed at protecting the long-term health of the Kettle River and its watershed.
 
“The first task of the consultants being hired to do the plan is to collate all the previous and current work being done and information available. At the end of it all that’s what’s going to give us a picture of the river,” said Kettle River Watershed committee Chair Grace McGregor. “In phase two we’re going to be looking at the hydrology of the system and all the things that flow into the water table ie: run-off and types of hazardous materials that may be on the river systems and going into the aquifer and tributaries.”
 
McGregor explained that the committee won’t know until bids on the project come in how long the project will take or what the overall cost will be.
 
“We always thought it was going to be in the vicinity of half a million. I think when we attach things to it that we need to do for water conservation we’re going to be looking at at least that much,” stated McGregor.
 
Mark Andison, director of planning for the RDKB, explained that the committee has completed the terms of reference for the Kettle River Watershed Management Plan and the RDKB will be working on a request for proposals for phase one. The phase one study will consist of a technical assessment of the watershed which will compile available information about the Kettle River Watershed, including any studies on that portion of the Kettle River which flows into and out of Washington State. The consulting team that conducts phase one of the planning process will also identify any relevant information gaps regarding the state of the river and its watershed.
 
Andison went on to say that phase two of the watershed management plan will consist of a watershed management planning process to identify water demand and supply initiatives that may be undertaken to ensure a sustainable Kettle River watershed. This may include water conservation initiatives, flood control initiatives, and/or pollution control initiatives, among others.
 
McGregor said that the project could not have moved forward without the financial contributions from area directors Irene Perepolkin and Bill Baird. They contributed $250,000 to the project from gas tax revenues.
 
“The meetings are going quite well at the committee. Area D has contributed funding towards this with the option to give more in the future if they need it,” said Perepolkin. “I think it’s a very worthwhile study. I think it’s really necessary for the whole region from Christina Lake to Rock Creek to Big white. I’m looking forward to a lot of hard work!” 

Of the federal gas tax revenues allocated to each electoral area, Bill Baird of area E has committed $150,000.00, lrene Perepolkin of area D $100,000.00, and Grace McGregor of area C has added another $20,000.00. Additionally, grants of $4,500.00 from the Phoenix Foundation of the Boundary Communities, $25,000.00 from Real-Estate Foundation of BC, and $30,000.00 from Southern lnterior Beatle Action Coalition have been committed. Further contributions of $30,000.00 from the City of Grand Forks (dedicated to flood mitigation measures) and $5,000.00 plus administration services from the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary have been provided. 

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