All Kootenay Watersheds Alliance

[submitted]

The All Kootenay Watersheds Alliance (AKWA) held its second meeting on June 18th near Nelson. The Alliance is made up of several watershed stewardship and drinking water provider groups, mostly in the West Kootenays. The vision of the Alliance is community watersheds across the Province where local communities are partners in stewardship, and where the values of clean, clear drinking water, healthy watershed environments, and safe local communities are held in highest regard.

Several watersheds in the Kootenays have been in the news this past year – notably including Ymir Watershed, Argenta/Mt Willett, and Glade Watershed as logging, mining, recreation and other resource use proposals are made for watersheds that are drinking water sources or otherwise important to nearby residents.

The ‘front-country’ issues are important to industry groups as well. Last fall, the Interior Lumber Manufacturers Association made a presentation to the Regional District of Central Kootenay concerning timber supply issues and the importance of relying on professional knowledge.

The Regional District has come out strongly in support of drinking water security in favour of Ymir (a water supply issue), and of Laird and Argenta/Mt Willett on the grounds of soil stability and safety.

For the most part, individual watershed groups have been acting on their own as best they can to ensure the security of their drinking water and the continued ecological health of their watersheds.

Watershed groups joining to form AKWA are concerned about the track record of impacts to water systems, the lack of consideration of cumulative impact, and regulatory reliance on professional knowledge that is contracted by industry. While some groups lobby for area protection over issues such as terrain instability and intact ecosystems, others seek greater community consultation and the implementation of ecosystem-based management.

A group with similar purposes is also forming province-wide. The BC Coalition for Forest Reform had its inaugural meeting this spring.

During this meeting, AKWA established three task groups to help the small watershed groups work better together. For more information, contact AKWA at
westkootenaywatersheds (at) gmail.com.