Concerns surface over Twin Lakes water
I attended a recent meeting called by Regional District Okanagan-Similkameen Area D Director Tom Siddon. Attendees included RDOS staff, Area G Director Angelique Wood, developer Suki Sekhon, president of CRS Group, and enough Twin Lakes residents to fill the room.
Siddon suggested we consider how the developer feels having purchased property on which zoning allowing development may be “taken away.”
The Twin Lakes issue is not about a developer’s feelings, but about the quantity and quality of ground water available in this ecosensitive area, and how many households, agricultural wells and surface water licences it will support.
Having lived in Japan and California, I experienced the devastating effects of water shortage personally, economically, to agriculture, ranching and wild areas. Twin Lakes is home to species at risk (spayed foot frog/toad, tiger salamander, western painted turtle) and migratory birds and wildlife. Five rare Lewis woodpeckers reside in our yard.
Previous hydrogeology reports concluded available water in the Twin Lakes area is already allocated or over-allocated to existing households and the area’s agricultural wells, irrigation, storage and diversion water licenses. CRS is spending $250,000 on a new hydrogeology report, a fraction of the profit CRS expects should the development proceed. Residents have repeatedly requested the terms of reference and assignment of the current study, without response. This information should be provided to existing area residents who may be affected by the development.
CRS applied for a development variance permit for a significant reduction in the RDOS required water flow/household, stating that Okanagan households use more water than do others in Canada. Twin Lakes is an arid climate outside of fire protection. We must keep plant material surrounding our homes green, which requires water, in case of fire.
Should the development be approved, will the RDOS, which will realize considerable property tax revenues; 1. Ensure provisions should ground water levels fall below acceptable levels and aquifer mining occurs? 2 .Pay for monitoring and regulation of ground water use? 3. Establish with CRS, a trust fund prior to permit approval to compensate current homeowners should the development drain available water?
According to a geologist in attendance, once the sand and gravel aquifer water is mined, sediment materials compact and the aquifer won’t refill. Water must then be hauled, requiring residents to build reservoirs, as no other water is available. Water is life -— for Twin Lakes area residents and rare and threatened species which reside here.