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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.

Program Overview

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:


  • The SWC coordinates water quality monitoring activities in the lakes and rivers of the Shuswap watershed to ensure the watershed is sufficiently monitored, with no duplication. It does this through regular meetings of the Shuswap Water Monitoring Group, a committee facilitated by the SWC.
  • From time to time, the SWC carries out special monitoring programs to identify emerging issues, for example, Monitoring water for contaminants of emerging concern.
  • The SWC publicly reports on monitoring results (see Annual Water Quality Reports).


  • The SWC commissioned research by a team of scientists at the University of BC (Okanagan) to study the source(s), flow path(s) and modern and historical inputs of phosphorus and other nutrients into the Shuswap River and Salmon River. Two phases of research were carried out between 2016 – 2019. To learn more and to see the results, visit Water Quality Research, Reports and Information.
  • Starting in 2023, the SWC is partnering with a research team at Thompson Rivers University (Kamloops) to study glaciers in the Adams River sub-basin, and the potential impacts that climate change and glacial melt are having on the hydrology of that river and downstream.


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.

  • From 2016 – 2018, the SWC offered $10,000 grants to stewardship groups for ecosystem restoration projects. This program is now complete. To see what was accomplished, visit this page.
  • Beginning in 2020, the SWC launched a Water Quality Grant Program to support new agricultural and land management practices to reduce the flow and input of phosphorus and other nutrients to Shuswap and Mara Lakes. To learn more, visit Water Quality Grants.
  • In 2022, the SWC published a Phosphorus Action Plan for the Shuswap watershed. The Plan provides guidance to everyone in the Shuswap on actions they can take to protect water quality by reducing the amount of phosphorus being released into the watershed. Learn more.

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.

About the Fraser Basin Council

The Fraser Basin Council (FBC) is a charitable non-profit organization that brings people together to advance sustainability in British Columbia.

Where We Work

We are grateful to live and work on the unceded ancestral territories of the Indigenous Nations of British Columbia.

Our Vision

Social well-being supported by a vibrant economy and sustained by a healthy environment.

Strategic Priorities

At the Fraser Basin Council, our strategic priorities are to take action on climate change, support healthy watersheds and water resources, and build sustainable and resilient communities.

With our partners, we work on a range of collaborative, multi-sector initiatives, such as those focused on flood management, community wildfire planning, air quality improvement, energy-efficient buildings, green transportation (including the uptake of electric vehicles and expansion of charging infrastructure), watershed planning and youth-driven climate action projects.

FBC Program Sites

Plug in BC:


ReTooling for Climate Change:

FBC Youth:

Climate Action Toolkit: 

Salmon-Safe BC

Realizing UNDRIP Initiative

Contact Us

FBC staff work from our Vancouver, Kamloops, Williams Lake and Prince George offices, and from several other locations.

To reach us, see FBC Offices and FBC Staff or contact our administration office:

Fraser Basin Council
1st Floor, 470 Granville Street
Vancouver, BC V6C 1V5

T: 604 488-5350