Kettle River Watershed Management Plan enters second phase

The second phase of the Kettle River Watershed Management Plan is underway, with a public meeting set for Oct. 12 at Rock Creek.

Graham Watt (left) at a recent environment committee meeting.

Graham Watt (left) at a recent environment committee meeting.

The second phase of the Kettle River Watershed Management Plan is underway, with a public meeting entitled “Rethinking our Water Ways” set for Friday, Oct. 12 at the Rock Creek Fall Fair Grounds from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Project manager Graham Watt noted that the Kettle River Watershed Management Plan came about from the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary’s decision on wanting to understand how the watershed is doing.

“From the flow of the river to the impacts on ecosystems, phase two will develop some recommendations for local government going towards the provincial government, land owners and industries on how to manage the watershed,” Watt explained. “Phase one of the project was doing the state of the watershed, with the draft available online. The final copy will be available soon.”

Watt pointed out that phase two of the plan is to connect with the public, the stakeholders and the people around the watershed.

“There are three aspects to what we’re doing,” he said. “The first one is understanding the issues and concerns that people have about the watershed – so what are people worried about? The fisheries, the ecosystems and water supply for agriculture.”

From there, the stakeholder group will develop an efficient document with the various conversations held to guide their next steps and goals.

“Next year, the focus will be on our advisory group – which has 30 members – that meets monthly to develop the plan,” he continued. “We will also lay out the goals and objects in more detail, and work on recommendations to achieve those. We’re aiming to have a final plan by the summer of 2014.”

The public meeting on Oct. 12 will begin with morning presentations from the Okanagan Basin Board and the Fraser Basin Council on watershed planning.

“We’re really trying to learn from each other as we go through this – and there will also be a presentation about the state of the watershed,” said Watt. “In the afternoon, we’ll be delving into the issues that people are most concerned about and try to look at where could these issues go and where can we address them in our plan. We’ll also be talking about the values and what we want to protect and enhance for the watershed in the long term.”

Watt stressed that phase two is focused on gaining public input, so the more responses received from a recently mailed survey the better.

“I’ve been learning a huge amount from the people who live here and I’m incredibly impressed about the level of knowledge about the watershed, and the level of interest in fish, ground water and run off quality,” concluded Watt. “The previous watersheds that I previously worked in Alberta, there were far fewer people who actually knew what watersheds they were in or if they could fish there. The level of knowledge, interest and passion in this area is exciting to see.”

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