March 23, 2011
Yes, I know! These aren’t necessarily your classic signs of spring, but here in Penticton, in the sunny South Okanagan Valley, they are important.
We’re located in a semi-arid climate region, and water is always an important consideration. Without irrigation, our famous orchards, vineyards, parks, lakes (Okanagan and Skaha), and other aspects of our area that draw numerous tourists and residents, would not be possible. Unfortunately, with the dry climate those water supplies are definitely limited.
That is why we are more and more searching out methods of extending our water supply. That little blue circle in the grass might not look like much to you, but it is part of a new underground irrigation system in one of our beautiful parks that will much more efficiently water the lovely stretches of grass that cover the ball fields and playground. Other more efficient irrigation methods you will find throughout the city include desert and xeriscape gardens that use plants native to our area, or at least native to similar climate conditions; drip irrigation systems in orchards and vineyards; and strict watering times and amounts.
The “spring shower pond” snapshot is significant because here it is a welcome sign that we are getting the moisture we need through winter snow packs and through spring rains. Many years that little spot, which may look to you like just a little puddle, would be totally dry at this time. Every bit of moisture Mother Nature sends our way is welcome.
It is also much needed, as our population continues to grow. When I was young, Penticton residential areas were mainly restricted to either end of the city, close to the two lakes. Now there are neighborhoods from one end of the city to the other, and up the hillsides as far as practicable. We have basically run out of growth space for the single-family dwellings that were once the norm. More and more townhouse and small apartment complexes have been added in the past few decades. But now the city is growing upward, more and more, as you can see in the “construction” photo.
All these new buildings, and the people who are moving into them, also require the precious resource of water. We all need to think of, and put into practice, ways that each of us can conserve the supplies of water that are so important in making Penticton “a place to stay forever.”