Lake

Widening of the Okanagan River south of Penticton could be considered as a way to quicken the draining of Okanagan Lake, lessening the chance of seasonal flooding. The lake is shown here at the 'full pool' level on May 29, 2020.

Okanagan taxpayers are being asked to boost their funding for a water management agency by six per cent in 2021.

 

The proposed budget for the Okanagan Basin Water Board shows taxpayer-revenues at $3.63 million next year, up from $3.4 million in 2020.

 

Kelowna-area taxpayers would provide the largest share of the OBWB funding, at $2.2 million, with property owners in the South Okanagan and Similkameen providing $724,000, and North Okanagan property owners contributing $646,000.

 

The three main functions of the OBWB are managing Valley-wide water issues, running an aquatic weed control program, and providing grants for the installation of new sanitary sewer systems and water conservation projects.

 

The OBWB levy, included on property taxes mailed out each June, would rise to 3.8 cents per $1,000 of assessed value if the budget is approved as expected at a meeting next Tuesday.

 

This means the owner of an average home assessed at $600,000 would pay about $23 toward OBWB operations next year, in addition to regular municipal, school, regional district, and hospital taxes.

 

OBWB executive director Anna Warwick Sears writes in a report to the OBWB board, made up of Okanagan municipal politicians, that the agency has "not had a significant requisition increase" since 2012.

 

The additional funding this year would cover hydrometric equipment that will provide better flood prediction and additional mapping of areas infested by a lake weed called Eurasian milfoil.

 

One particular interest of the OBWB is working with the province to explore the possibility of land purchases along the Okanagan River south of Penticton.

 

The additional property could be used to increase the carrying capacity of the river, lessening the risk of flooding along the shoreline of Okanagan Lake.

 

That would let water managers be more "reactive," adjusting the outflow at the Penticton dam to deal with current conditions, an OBWB document states.

 

"Managing the lake as is done now, responding proactively and releasing water based on what inflow is expected, can cause issues in the case of a multi-year drought," the document says.