Agriculture

Reducing Climate Risk in the Okanagan 5: Collect Water in Place

The practice of collecting water in the mountains, delivering it to cities and farms in the valley bottom, and then emptying recycled water into the lakes is placing us at climate risk, not the least because it prevents settlement and agricultural development in the mountains, where we have the best chance to farm with reduced water needs. This is the Okanagan Watershed. The green bits are the high country in the Canadian Okanagan. The orange bits are where the farms and cities are (mostly cities now). This separation places us at risk.

The solution is to stop moving water. Every 100 litres of water we use in the mountains is 135 litres we don’t have to use in the valley bottom. That gives us 35% resilience against risk, and moves populations out of the valley bottoms, where pollution collects due to complicated weather patterns, and human health suffers. The day will come when that 35% is essential for survival. Putting it another way, every 100 litres of water we collect in that orange zone above, in storm sewer systems that don’t return water to the lakes, for flow south to the American Okanogan, is 135 litres that does not need to be drawn away from the mountains, and another 35 litres that doesn’t simply evaporate into the sky and blow away. That gives us 70% resilience, and ensures a food supply. Here’s a clover plant showing how water can collect at myriads of fine points and be distributed in tiny watersheds rather than large ones.

This mustard is suggesting the same sort of thing.

70%! That’s huge. Especially when upgrades to Vernon’s water system alone are expected to be around $100,000,000. Imagine if $70,000,000 of that were to go towards building food resiliency instead. We can start by collecting water, house by house by house, block by block by block, and using it in place and using the savings to moving our food supply up into the hills.

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