Shared Okanagan watershed highlighted in film premiere

“It’s a real coming together of people on either side of the watershed…”

A meeting between those who manage the Okanagan watershed on both sides of the Canada-U.S. border, is set to get underway this week.

The International Joint Commission’s International Osoyoos Lake Board of Control, a bi-national body made up of representatives from both countries is meeting Oct. 17, from 6 p.m. – 8:15 p.m. at the Sonora Centre, 8505 68 Ave., in Osoyoos.

As both sides convene to discuss their shared interest, they will also premiere the documentary A River Film, showcasing Osoyoos Lake and the Okanagan River Basin, its people, the various competing needs for water, and how it is all managed.

“It’s unusual to be in a transboundary, shared watershed,” explains Okanagan Basin Water Board executive director Anna Warwick Sears, who also sits on the IOLBC, in a press release put out by the water basin board.

“The meeting is an opportunity for the public to ask questions of the decision-makers which only happens once a year.”

The documentary, said Sears, is a joint production of the IJC, the Washington State Department of Ecology, the OBWB and its Okanagan WaterWise program. Breathtaking film footage provides a spectacular look at the river and the lake, taking viewers on a tour of various sites in the watershed, meeting the people, and connecting with the fish and other life that relies on a healthy water supply.

“The film shows what we’re managing for. It’s a real coming together of people on either side of the watershed, sharing their personal connection to this shared water, all the issues, all the needs and uses, and the challenges and importance of protecting the water for everyone, including the environment itself,” said Sears.

Al Josephy, with the Washington State Department of Ecology which oversees Zosel Dam on Okanaogan River, notes that just as people have stories, so do rivers, and people in modern times have modified the river’s story to bend to their needs – the need for drinking water, for farm water, for industrial water, to feed lawns, to recreate on, and more.

“The river has to adapt to these needs while also nurturing her first children, the critters that live and have lived forever along her banks and in her gravels. It’s a tall order,” said Josephy.

“How the river’s story develops will depend on how we work together in the future to keep our rivers alive and healthy.”

Attendance at the meeting and film screening on Oct. 17 is free and all are welcome. For more details visithttp://ijc.org/en_/iolbc/Home. A second red-carpet screening is planned for Oct. 25 at the Oliver Theatre. This is also a free event but registration is required at https://a-river-film.eventbrite.ca.

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