Water Quality Program
The Shuswap Watershed Council (SWC) is focused on a watershed-wide collaborative program to maintain and enhance water quality “at the source.” This is different from the role of water suppliers to treat and deliver drinking water “at the tap.”
Source water protection is a first line of defence. This is best done through collaboration since no single agency has the exclusive responsibility for keeping the watershed healthy. This is where the SWC comes in: as a partnership of several organizations with different roles in water, it facilitates different groups working together to protect and enhance water quality.
Taking steps to protect Shuswap water resources is an important investment in the future of the region. It is easier and less costly to manage small programs now, while water quality is generally good, than to try to fix more serious problems later.
The SWC implemented its Water Quality Program in 2016 with financial support from the Columbia Shuswap Regional District, Thompson-Nicola Regional District, and City of Salmon Arm. In 2018, Adams Lake Indian Band became a financial supporter of the SWC’s work.
This program complements and supports the work of agencies with responsibilities for water. The SWC strives not to duplicate any functions. The program consists of the following:
1) WATER MONITORING
2) WATER QUALITY RESEARCH
3) WATER PROTECTION AND IMPROVEMENT
With guidance from an advisory committee, the SWC supports various land-based projects to protect and improve water quality in the Shuswap watershed. Currently, this work is particularly aimed at improving nutrient management on the landscape in order to minimize inputs of phosphorus and other nutrients to creeks and rivers, and ultimately into Shuswap and Mara Lakes.
Water quality monitoring in the Shuswap watershed shows that one of the most significant threats to water quality is excessive inputs of phosphorus and other nutrients to the rivers and lakes. While nutrients are an important part of aquatic ecosystems and form the basis of the food chain, too many nutrients — especially phosphorus — can trigger algal blooms and reduce the quality of water for drinking and recreation, create odours, and even be toxic to people, pets and livestock.
Water quality monitoring and research also show that the Shuswap is naturally low in nutrients, and that it is impacted by nutrient inputs coming from the valley bottoms where there is agriculture, housing and commercial development. It’s in everyone’s collective best interest to manage nutrient inputs and prevent water quality from deteriorating.
EVERYONE CAN PLAY A ROLE!
Everyone in the Shuswap can help protect water quality. This is so whether you are a farmer choosing fertilizers, a houseboat operator managing greywater, or an individual homeowner looking to lighten your footprint.
How homeowners can help:
Also check out the SWC Water Protection Initiative brochure.
HAVE YOU HEARD?
Have you heard ... I Don't Flush!
Pledge not to flush personal care products, such as floss, swabs and wipes, to help keep water quality and sanitary sewers in shipshape.