A historic new book has captured the ingenuity and dedication behind the Black Mountain Irrigation District.
Title Black Mountain Gold – A Century of The water, the book is the first century story of a water service started by the early pioneers of the central Okanagan, with names such as Rutland, Casorso, Lequime, Mugford, Philpott, Stevens – individuals and families who played an important role in the overall development of Kelowna in the city it is today.
The book, written by longtime Capital News former environment and outdoors reporter Judie Steeves, tells the story of the Irrigation District, a landmark publication to help mark the District’s 100th anniversary. Black Mountain Irrigation (BMID).
|Remains of an original Black Mountain Irrigation District ditch used to distribute water. (Contributed)|
Along with the book’s release, an anniversary recognition ceremony paired with tours of BMID’s ultra-modern ultra-violet disinfection facility, 2450 Joe Rich Rd., Was scheduled for Saturday, December 5. However, these activities all had to be canceled due to COVID-19 public gathering restrictions imposed by the provincial health office in recent weeks.
“We are now planning to have some sort of grand opening of (the disinfection facility) next spring,” said Bob Hrasko, administrator of BMID.
Hrasko said the book was a collective effort helped by many people, a process that began in earnest about 18 months ago.
John and Evelyn Vielvoye, Lynn Stevens, Elaine Singer and former MP and retired MP Al Horning were on the book’s research committee with Hrasko.
Others involved in the research process included historical geographer Wayne Wilson, Bob Hayes and others from the Okanagan Historical Society as well as Ted White, the province’s water controller.
âAl Horning is the guy who was actually the most important person to bring the book out,â Hrasko said.
“He pissed me off about this 10 years ago and then again three years ago, saying that the 100th anniversary is approaching and that we have to do somethingâ¦ I don’t think that would have happened if he hadn’t insisted from the start. . “
He added that the 105-page literary effort had the backing of about 35 companies, to help keep the cost down to $ 25. It is now available for sale at Mosaic Books in downtown Kelowna.
He said BMID’s story is historically fascinating, a reflection of development across the valley, guided by the innovation of the settlers to bring water to their plots of land, their lobbying efforts for help from the settlers. higher levels of government to enact laws or build infrastructure to make moving forward possible, as well as the politics involved along the way.
Hrasko says these trademarks of BMID history continue today as the Water Irrigation District shows why consolidating water management under the auspices of the City of Kelowna may not serve. the best interests of the domestic and agricultural water users it serves.
Today there remains a politically sensitive issue. Spurred on by the province, efforts to pursue the path of consolidation resulted in a compromise agreement with the different river basin districts in 2012, to the point where 40 different water improvement projects were identified to go forward.
But that collapsed in 2017, as the city has since taken over the Southeast Kelowna Irrigation District and completed a $ 98 million infrastructure upgrade project.
Still, the first 19 of those 40 projects have been completed, and Hrasko remains optimistic number 20 to improve the interconnectivity of water distribution between different water providers.
While increased water quality requirements have imposed prohibitive infrastructure requirements on independent river basin districts, Hrasko says the new UV disinfection plant is BMID’s ability to deliver quality water distribution. to its users, with other distribution improvement projects underway, while responding Interior Health has applied water quality guidelines.
He said BMID’s reputation for water quality is a reflection of not pumping water from the lake, but having access to natural runoff free of pollutants, reflected in reservoirs of a 25 feet depth where you can see the bottom of the tank. Bank.
Added to this, he said, is the level of commitment to concerns or issues posed by irrigation water users and helps to encourage water conservation initiatives as people are increasingly aware of the protection of a sustainable water resource for years to come in the shadow of climate change and increased impacts of urban development.