Tuesday, May 24, 2016

It can't happen here in the Okanagan - or can it?

Lake Mead helps supply water to 25 million people. And it just hit a record low.


It's a good time to revisit the slow-motion water crunch in the American Southwest. Last week, Lake Mead — a key reservoir that helps supply water for 25 million people in Nevada, Arizona, and California — shrunk to its lowest level ever. And the question of how to grapple with water scarcity is making headlines yet again.

Back in the 20th century, the United States built an army of dams across the West to tame rivers, generate electricity, and store water in reservoirs for cities and farms. This intricate system is why metropolises like Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and Phoenix have been able to survive in what's basically a desert. Large-scale farming is really only possible in California's Imperial Valley or central Arizona because of these dams.

But rising demand and 16 years of drought have put a severe strain on this system. Dean Farrell has created a terrific interactive map showing how key reservoirs in the West have seen their water levels drop dramatically of late: (continue reading)

Duteau Creek reservoir is entirely dependent on annual snow and rain fall.There were years in the past when the reservoir levels dropped seriously and major fish kills were experienced. We should continue to proceed with a Master Water Plan that relies on the more reliable water sources of the valley bottom lakes: Kalamalka and Okanagan lakes.


Monday, May 23, 2016

Selected Morning Star Newsclip - In case you missed them.

The available water in both 2015 and 2016 far exceeded the consumption levels. There should be more evidence-based management of the Duteau Reservoir. 

For more evidence visit Evidence 


Sunday, May 22, 2016

Architect details amphitheatre plan

Richard Rolke - Vernon Morning Star

Bill Chomik looks at the ravine below Okanagan College and sees an open canvas.

The Calgary-based architect is working with the Okanagan Summer Festival Society to design a 5,500-seat amphitheatre in Coldstream.

“I haven’t seen a site so suitable for a project like this. This is an architect’s dream,” he said during a visit to the area Friday.

“God has given us this piece of land to put it in.”

While nearby residents have expressed concerns about noise during performances at the Kal Bowl, Chomik insists the gully will act as a sound barrier.

“The sound will be reflected up and not across,” he said, adding that large roofs over the stage and seats will also help.

“They will bounce the sound back into the amphitheatre and we will get spectacular acoustics.”

Another goal, Chomik says, is to preserve the natural environment of the ravine.
“It touches the earth gently,” he said.

“The idea is to bridge across the gully with infrastructure and not dump a bunch of dirt in.”
A culvert would allow water to flow.

“We are going to make this facility very green,” said Chomik of solar energy and the use of wood during construction.

Another concern that has surfaced is that existing parking at the college won’t be sufficient during performances.

“We will encourage people to use group transit. Hotels could use shuttles to bring guests to the site,” said Diane Bond, with the society.

“We would encourage park and ride from a central location, such as in Kelowna.”

As part of developing a plan for the amphitheatre, society officials will talk to senior government in the next month.

“We hope they will be funders of a significant majority of the capital portion,” said Bond.

“We will be putting together a timetable for the formal submission.”

Cost estimates are being established now.

There are no immediate plans to consult with nearby residents.

“As we have reports on subjects, such as traffic, we will hold information sessions,” said Bond.


Friday, May 20, 2016

Selected Morning Star Newsclips - In case you missed them.

 Just a reminder: this is the last Sunday this spring to use the transfer station for garden waste deposit!


No place for amphitheater - Letter to the Editor - Castanet

I find it interesting that Diane Bond, Spokesperson/Secretary/Treasurer, the President, Vice President and 2 other directors of the Okanagan Summer Festival Society don’t live in Coldstream or Greater Vernon or even the North Okanagan. Who knows where their entire 35 person membership reside but this small group holds tight to a very idealistic vision of constructing and operating an amphitheater which will accommodate 6000 patrons on the grounds of the Vernon Campus of Okanagan College. Built into the existing gullies the landscape would be forever changed from the unique, rugged yet delicate looking slopes to this flat panelled roof that will take away any semblance of natural beauty inherent to the area. Read more


Monday, May 16, 2016

Is there scientific evidence for pending water shortages in Greater Vernon in 2016?

Before we start a major water conservation project we should consider the scientific evidence for the need for it. As I stated earlier there are consequences of extreme water conservation: we pay more for less water as the budgetary obligation must be met.

Of course, if there is a major water shortage we must be prudent with the available water so every customer gets his/her basic needs. For that purpose Greater Vernon Water Utility developed a Drought Management Plan in 2011 with the help of a dedicated group of volunteers. The plan considers available empirical evidence before determines appropriate action. It uses a model such as the one below to decide the need for extreme conservation measures.

The current status of the Duteau Reservoir is demonstrated below:

There is no water shortage indicated  by the graph. In fact, if we observe long term empirical data relating to reservoir levels (below) we can see that in most years when the Duteau reservoir was full at the start of the irrigation season the reservoir was in good shape by the end of the season.

So, we can choose to conserve and get less water for more money, and perhaps run a deficit, or use our water judicially. We have a way oversized water system for which we had (and continue to have) to pay and we are already quite diligent in using water way below predicted volumes (an average of 53% below the predicted demands). Staff is so worried about reduced water consumption that they recommended extremely high base fees for which we get no water at all. This costs us all a lot of money without justification.

I have analyzed the water consumption of Coldstream customers for the first quarter of 2016. The average cost of 1 cubic meter of water was $4.30. Of this sum $3.10 (72%) was due to base fees. I am reasonably sure that if we also included Vernon customers this rate would be lower due to lower Industrial, Commercial and Institutional (ICI) rates.

This could be improved significantly if all domestic customers (including customers)  paid the same rates. However, the majority of RDNO Directors oppose the elimination of subsidized rates for ICI customers. They need your opinion on the issue so they could be pressured to represent your interests. If you disagree with ICI subsidies email, phone or write to your political representative and tell them how you feel.

You may decide to conserve water on principle and it is your prerogative. But that conserved water will not stay here: it will continue its travel to the sea and come back next year via air mail!


Friday, May 13, 2016

Selected Morning Star Newsclips - In case you missed them.



Water Wise Program Launched

The warm weather has arrived early in the Okanagan  -- which has led to concerns there could be another drought this summer.

Eleven valley mayors or councillors took part in a news conference in Kelowna to launch the annual "Make Water Work" campaign.

It's a program put on by the Okanagan Basin Water Board.

Acting Vernon mayor Juliette Cunningham says water metering and restrictions have helped reduce water use in recent years -- but more can be done.

"24 percent of domestic water is used for outside landscaping, and we know we're in a dry climate, and we believe there is lots of room to move to less consumption," Cunningham tells Kiss FM.

Cunningham says there is a number of things residents can do to reduce water use in their yards.

"If you do have grass, you can leave it longer and not cutting it as frequently, and when you do water, you water it enough so that the water goes right down to encourage strong root growth," says the city councillor.

In addition to mayors taking and issuing challenges at today’s event, OBWB’s Communications Director Corinne Jackson announced the expansion of the Make Water Work Plant Collection, just in time for spring gardening.

“This year the collection has been expanded to include 54 plants, including beautiful grasses, perennials, shrubs and trees, perfect for the dry Okanagan climate,” says Jackson. “As well, two new garden centres have joined the program, bringing the total to nine, ensuring nearly all Okanagan residents can walk into a garden centre in their community and find the Make Water Work collection, making it easier than ever to find WaterWise choices for their yard.”

People who take the challenge and pledge to Make Water Work will be entered to win several prizes including a Grand Prize of a WaterWise yard upgrade worth $6,000, thanks to contest partners KelownaGardens.com, ProSource Irrigation, Bylands and, Eco Turf Farms.

Residents can take the challenge, find the Make Water Work Plant Collection and water restrictions for their community, by visiting www.MakeWaterWork.ca

Those joining Cunningham in taking the challenge today included: West Kelowna mayor and OBWB chair Doug Findlater, Armstrong Mayor Chris Pieper, Acting Mayor for Lake Country Rob Geier, City of Kelowna Deputy Mayor Gail Given, Peachland Mayor Cindy Fortin, Summerland Acting Mayor Toni Boot, Penticton Mayor Andrew Jakubeit, Oliver Mayor Ron Hovanes and Osoyoos Deputy Mayor CJ Rhodes.
It is so simple: don't use any water and we'll save all the water to run its course down to the sea! However, what about the $19 million budget? We need means to pay for it. We must cover it by water rates. 

If we use less water we must increase water rates. It's a vicious circle. If we had a truly user pay system saving water could benefit customers. Unfortunately, under the current rate system saving water does not save money for them it costs them more without the benefit of water. 

The current water system was designed to provide up to 9,670 ML/year to its customers increasing to 13,360 ML/year by 2052. Current annual consumption averages just over 6,000 ML/year. Customers are not abusing the system and should only be encouraged to reduce consumption when there are actual water shortages. GVWU staff justified high base fees on the basis of reduced consumption due to high rates. Further reduction will encourage staff to recommend even higher base fees which counters our stated policy of a user pay cost recovery. If we cannot provide the water need in 2016 what will happen in 2052 when the projected water demand will increase to 13,360?


Sunday, May 8, 2016

Selected Morning Star Newsclips - In case you missed them.


PRELIM of 2016 comparison Coldstream vs Vernon residential calculator

Vernon Councillor Bob Spears posted a comparative tax calculator for the City of Vernon and the District of Coldstream. You can access it by clicking on the link below. Thanks Bob!

This  calculator below  is an illustration of the the comparative tax rates between Coldstream and Vernon for your property assessments for land and Improvements. Find out what you would pay in Coldstream if you lived in Vernon and Vice versa.

PRELIM of 2016  comparison Coldstream vs Vernon residential calculator


Saturday, May 7, 2016

Selected Morning Star Newsclips - In case you missed them.




Fort McMurray relief donations hit $30M

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the federal government will match individual donations made to the Canadian Red Cross to help those affected by the raging wildfire in Fort McMurray, Alta., as federal leaders set their partisan differences aside to express their support for Albertans in the House of Commons. 

The continuing disaster forced Alberta to call a state of emergency on Wednesday after more than 88,000 people were forced out of their homes in and around Fort McMurray, sending evacuees to surrounding communities for shelter. read more

Anyone wishing to donate can do it


Friday, May 6, 2016

KISS FM Question of the day.

KISS FM is polling the general public about their opinion on the Master Water Plan. you may participate in the poll by clicking on the link below. The question is:
"Do you agree with the Greater Vernon master water plan review recommending the current system remains the way it is?"


Review Supports Current Water Plan

A review of Greater Vernon's master water plan has reaffirmed the current direction.

An 18 member stakeholders advisory committee (SAC) made up of a cross section of water users, held 11 meetings since last fall, to review technical information and options.

SAC Committee chairperson Jim Garlick says the main conclusion is the current system with two water sources and two treatment facilities, is the best option.

"Rather than going to one source, and saying Kal Lake, Duteau Creek or Okanagan Lake be our sole source alone, and one treatment plant, the idea is to have redundancy, That that is important to the plan."

Coldstream councillor Gyula Kiss -- who supported using Duteau Creek just for farming water -- felt the committee eliminated any chance of opposing views.

"First of all, they wouldn't allow me to get on the committee, and in order to get intelligent questions, one has to have an idea of what's in the plan. Any input from an opposing view was totally eliminated. We had a bunch of people that were only indoctrinated by staff and the consultants," Kiss tells Kiss FM.

Garlick, who is Coldstream's mayor,  says trying to avoid that perception was a major focus.

"Efforts were made to say, 'Here's the information, take it for your own consideration, and come up with your own conclusions,'" says Garlick. 

The advisory panel will be making 16 recommendations to the Greater Vernon Advisory Committee.

Garlick says one change could be in the way future water projects are paid for.

"Looking at our reserves, looking at how much we're taking in at the rates we have now, and what we'll be able to do with that. The good thing about the process is we've had a chance to look at it in more detail, rather than, here's a plan, let's borrow a bunch of money in order to start it."

Garlick says projects could be undertaken in smaller amounts, then be reassessed, followed by more projects as needed.

The SAC will hold its final meeting May 19.

The review was sparked after Greater Vernon voters rejected a $70 million referendum for six water projects in 2014

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Selected Morning Star Newsclips - In case you missed them.

Councillor Spiers prepared a preliminary comparative tax calculator for Vernon and Coldstream. The calculator can be accessed here.


Coldstream Ratepayers News! All Coldstream residents are ratepayers!

The opinions expressed by "Coldstreamer" are strictly his own and do not represent the opinions of Coldstream Council!

Because I value your thoughtful opinions, I encourage you to add a comment to this discussion. Don't be offended if I edit your comments for clarity or to keep out questionable matters, however, and I may even delete off-topic comments.

Gyula Kiss


We must protect our rights and freedom! (Photo courtesy of D. Gibson) Click on eagle to watch EAGLECAMS

About Me

My photo
I have been a resident of Coldstream since 1976. I have had 15 years of experience on Council, 3 years as Mayor. As a current Councillor I am working to achieve fair water and sewer rates and to ensure that taxpayers get fair treatment. The current direction regarding water supply is unsustainable and I am doing all I can to get the most cost effective water supply possible.