From September 18 to 20, 2011 the Osoyoos Lake Water Science Forum was held in Osoyoos, British Columbia to discuss local and regional issues surrounding the future of our most fundamental need: water.
In attendance at the conference were over 150 participants from the Okanagan Basin Water Board, International Joint Commission, local politicians from Osoyoos and Oroville, scientists and consultants from both Canada and the United States, members of First Nations and residents from BC and Washington. This conference is held every 4 years and the goal is ”to provide a communication bridge for all levels of government and the public aimed at learning, sharing and developing strategies to work together to improve Osoyoos Lake and promote its future sustainability”.
As a first time participant I had no idea about what to expect. The first night(Sunday) to open the conference was held at the NK’Mip Desert Cultural Centre where keynote speakers delivered an opening address followed by a reception. For the next 2 days the format was a number of short presentations (20 minutes) delivered by industry experts, academia, and stewards from the community who have a direct influence on the delivery of water followed by a question period. At the end of each day a panel was convened to allow for more clarification and a chance to pose more questions.
The event was very well staged with a moderator to help keep us on track and on time. I came away with a sense of how much resources go into the protecting, monitoring and conserving this most precious natural resource.
As a concerned citizen and resident there are many questions that beg for followup for instance: (1)in 2013 when the International Joint Commission needs to put forward new operating orders for the Zosel Dam, what impact will that have?, (2) will the water quality of the lake continue to improve?, (3) what will be the long term impact of climate change?, (4) how are we going to manage the influx of people to the Okanagan Basin (i.e. improved conservation methods)?, (5) waste water treatment especially the elimination of estrogens, and (6) control of invasive species such as Eurasian Water milfoil.
Stay-tuned for updates on this important issue!