tkwəɬniwt (Westbank), Syilx Territory: On April 10, 2018, the Okanagan Nation Alliance, in collaboration with the Province of British Columbia and the Okanagan Basin Water Board (OBWB) announced that $1.45 million has been secured to enhance flood mapping for the Okanagan Valley.
The funds received will go towards LiDAR* and digital aerial imagery acquisition for the entire Okanagan Valley watershed, which will greatly assist all partners to facilitate effective and dynamic flood mapping and risk assessments. Following the dramatic flooding throughout Syilx territory in 2017 that threatened the safety and wellbeing of multiple communities throughout the Nation, there is a pressing need to undertake risk assessments and flood mapping, and make the Okanagan more resilient to extreme precipitation.
Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, Okanagan Nation Alliance Chair states “The Okanagan Nation affirms our constitutional rights and responsibilities related to our siwlɬkʷ (water). This announcement comes at a critical point in our shared history when we have the culmination of multiple challenges, including those posed by climate change, that threaten the health and function of siwlɬkʷ systems in the Okanagan. We must step away from old approaches and practices and to come together in partnership to commit to the sustainability of siwlɬkʷ and the safety of everyone who inhabits Syilx territory”.
This project will provide information for the entire watershed, allowing for more strategic planning and risk assessment to occur. By managing our land responsibly today, we entrust our future generations to a healthy land base and clean siwlɬkʷ. The project will be coordinated by all three parties, with funds being managed by the OBWB.
Chief Chad Eneas, Penticton Indian Band, reiterates “siwlɬkʷis one of our most sacred responsibilities, to protect and care for. This partnership is another small step that demonstrates an integrated approach to fully understanding all aspects of the siwlɬkʷ cycle. We need to respect siwlɬkʷ and comprehend the impacts development has had on the floodplain, specifically over the last 100 years. This requires the research and data to highlight and responsibly plan for climate change.”
In July 2014, the Okanagan Nation Alliance endorsed the Syilx Water Declaration. The Syilx Water Declaration serves as a living document on our relations and values to water. For more information visit: www.syilx.org/about-us/syilx-nation/water-declaration/
* LiDAR stands for Light Detection and Ranging and is a remote imaging method that uses light in the form of a pulsed laser to measure ranges (variable distances) to generate precise, three-dimensional information about the shape of the Earth and its surface characteristics.
QUESTION & ANSWER
Q: What is LiDAR? Why has this project been initiated?
A: LIDAR stands for Light Detection and Ranging and is a remote imaging method that uses light in the form of a pulsed laser to measure ranges (variable distances) to generate precise, three-dimensional information about the shape of the Earth and its surface characteristics. Following the dramatic flooding throughout Syilx territory in 2017, there is a need to undertake risk assessments and flood mapping, and make the Okanagan more resilient to extreme precipitation. LiDAR and digital aerial imagery for the Okanagan watershed will greatly assist all parties to facilitate flood mapping and risk assessments. All information gathered will be made available to Okanagan Nation communities to further enhance the capacity for emergency planning and community development.
Q: Who are all the parties involved?
A: The main partners on this project include the Okanagan Nation Alliance, the Okanagan Basin Water Board (OBWB), the Province of BC’s Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General, and GeoBC (a branch within the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development). The Okanagan Basin Water Board (OBWB) is a local government watershed agency, structured as a partnership of the Regional District of North Okanagan, the Regional District of Central Okanagan, and the Regional District of Okanagan‐Similkameen.
Q: What will these funds be used to accomplish?
A: The project will obtain LiDAR and produce orthoimagery for the entire watershed, and has structured this RFP to accommodate mapping requirements, the timing of funding approvals, and environmental constraints (the need for low water, snow free and smoke free conditions, among others). These funds will be administered by the OBWB. All Nation member communities will have access to the technical information and knowledge from these studies, enabling them to create more resilient and dynamic watershed management plans.
Q: Why is this project significant?
A: This project is a continuance of the collaborative work being carried out by ONA to address water-based issues in the territory, that includes the Environmental Flow Needs project: https://www.syilx.org/projects/environmental-flow-needs-efn/ . Building on the success of this work the LiDAR project is the first of its kind based on the fact that all partners came together, rather than each doing their own work. This has allowed for the review and administration process to be rapidly expedited, providing all parties with valuable information in a timely manner.