Coral Brown’s tour of the Twin Lakes Watershed was interesting, informative, and educational.
What this area faces is the challenge of using its limited water resources judiciously. It is a problem that will become more relevant as communities push “progress” that often leads to more population and more industries using a finite resource—water.
The Twin Lakes area faces development that would adversely affect the water quality for all those involved. Developers can only envision profit and often are neglectful of consequences involved with those visions. In this instance, this is the problem. The owner of the Golf course proposes an expansion by building a secondary village that would have all the amenities, such as store, restaurant, pool, etc. It would also build 200 condos or dwellings.
Driving through this area on the highway from Keremeos we encountered a creek along side the road, then Yellow lake, followed by Trout Lake (behind the store and gas station). One has no idea that there could be a water shortage! Yet Yellow Lake drains towards Keremeos, but Trout Lake which is very shallow depends on the aquifer. So does all the development; golf courses, and subdivisions depend on one tiny creek in a semi desert area, Horn Creek located south of the golf course and not visible from highway 3A.
The water source for this area begins with Horn Creek which starts at Orofino Mountain and which then flows into Horn Lake. From there, a small amount flows down the valley towards White Lake. Another tiny channel leads to the north and into the Lower Twin Lake area. This tiny channel (only three feet wide and a few inches deep), is all that keeps the aquifer resupplied. Obviously it cannot support more “development”.
According to Coral Brown, “It is all a matter of Water In and Water Out and how much is safe to use before depleting the aquifer to an unsustainable level. Since there is no other source of water to the Twin Lakes Area the precious aquifer must not be drawn down more than 30% of the recharge. If the water drawn is greater than 30% of the recharge then it is estimated that the alluvial aquifer will begin to collapse and the water storage will be greatly reduced.”
We were taken to different viewpoints to see the areas affected by this aquifer; although of course, the aquifer was not visible to the naked eye. Thus, we got a new and different view and knowledge of the valley than we wouldn’t have had otherwise.