by Martha Wickett - Salmon Arm Observer, July 22, 2015

"A flood hazard risk assessment for the city is inching closer.

Urban Systems Ltd. of Kamloops has been awarded the contract to complete a request for proposals to companies who would like to bid on a flood hazard risk assessment for the city.

The award came to city council because staff chose the highest of three quotes in choosing Urban Systems' $9,800 contract. The lowest bid was $8,800 from a Salmon Arm company.

The decision was based not only on project cost, but also on methodology and project team. The staff report states Urban Systems received "strong scoring in team composition and experience, presentation and reporting, past performance with the city, and a very clear understanding of the deliverables."

Coun. Alan Harrison said he agreed with staff in choosing the experience and expertise of Urban Systems.

Council thanked Coun. Tim Lavery for creating the motion that's laying the foundation for the assessment.

Said Ken Jamieson: "A couple of years ago people said it wasn't really needed, to now when we're preparing for a plan."
  top  home


On May 28, 2015, an Invasive Species Forum was hosted by WA:TER at the Deo Lutheran Church in Salmon Arm with a relatively small but enthusiastic crowd in attendance. After an opening address by Pastor Eric Bjorgan, Warren Bell introduced the topic by stressing that it is generally prudent to manage most invasive species rather than try to eradicate them via chemical means, thus causing harm to the environment. Robyn Hooper of the Columbia Shuswap Invasive Species Society (CSISS) then presented an overview of their work. CSISS is a non profit society formed for collaboration, engagement and education on invasive species. She indicated that invasive species have important environmental, social and economic consequences, such as degradation of grazing land (over 50 million dollars spent annually in BC to control invasive weeds in agriculture), outcompeting native species in the wild reducing biodiversity, and potential toxic harm to humans, for example, exposure to giant hogweed and fire ants.

Recently, non-native Zebra and Quagga mussels that can potentially clog water intake pipes and damage swimming areas, have been spreading across North America. Fortunately, they have not yet been found in BC but there is a need to be vigilant. It is estimated that if they were to gain a foothold in the waterway at the Mica and Revelstoke Dams, it could cost upward of $3.2 million annually to remove.

Some of the particularly problematic invasive plants in our area include the Yellow Flag Iris, Knotweed, Purple Loosestrife, Himalayan Balsam, Eurasian Water Milfoil, and Climbing Nightshade.

Robyn ended her talk with a list of ideas for what we can do: create youth programs, ID workshops, inventory fieldwork, weed pulls, landowner extension and partnership with land stewards. More information at the CSISS website: http://columbiashuswapinvasives.org/.

Dr. Catherine Tarasoff and her summer assistant, Kailee Streichert presented the results of their research on managing Yellow Flag Iris, an introduced ornamental water garden plant that is spreading rapidly by subterranean fleshy stems called rhizomes. The colonies of the plants are outcompeting native plant species and altering aquatic ecosystems across the Pacific Northwest, including the Shuswap area. Currently, mitigation activities involve either digging out the plants or deadheading to remove flowers and the seed source. Unfortunately, digging is labour intensive and deadheading does not prevent asexual spread via the rihizomes. The researchers have developed a method using benthic barriers that involves cutting the plants close to the bottom of the lake or stream, and covering the remnants with a thick mat of conveyor mat material that prevents light and oxygen from reaching the rhizomes, known from previous research to potentially kill rhizomes. Results are promising in that the barriers have significantly reduced the number of living cells in the rhizomes to a very low number after 150 days compared to the controls. It was also found that straight cutting with no barrier also provided some control. The efficacy of such treatments in situ still needs to be investigated.

Phil McIntyre-Paul stressed the importance of trail systems in connecting with our surroundings. The making and using of trails helps improve local efforts to look after our environment, including the identification and removal of invasive species. He cited an example of the dedication of one person in wading through water to remove oxeye daisy from Mara Meadows, a invasive species that poses a threat to this fragile ecosystem that supports 13 native orchid species.

Bonnie Thomas, representing the Switzmalph Cultural Society, spoke about respectfully interacting with our environment. She explained how the society acts as the steward of part of the Salmon River Delta and has been documenting plants traditionally used for medicines, food and tools. They have documented about 75 species and are in the process of restoration of the area which includes re-establishment of several species. Invasive species have not been documented but there is recognition that they are impacting the area and are interested in working with CSISS to address the problem.

Carman Massey discussed the establishment of the White Lake Stewards, a group involved in removal of yellow flag iris in various locations around the lake. Their group was spawned after attending the wetland keeper's course and subsequently they were able to work with BC Parks because of the potential threat to native orchid species. They have been digging it up and deadheading but now are working with Dr. Tarasoff, who has added White Lake as a test site for the benthic barrier work.
  top  home


Salmon Arm Observer Editorial, July 16, 2013

"Given the situation of many of our southern Alberta neighbours, it is not surprising Salmon Arm city council will be taking another look at whether to push forward plans for flood hazard assessments of the Salmon River floodplain.

No doubt many communities in Canada will take a more critical look at building in flood zones. Already, criticism is being voiced that not enough attention was paid to the recommendations in a report following Alberta's 2005 flood.
High River flood, June 2013

Photo credit: Calgary Herald

One key recommendation was keeping up-to-date information on flood zones, as well as a restricting building development on flood-risk areas. The report stated that undeveloped flood plains are the natural and most effective form of flood mitigation possible.

The city previously designated a flood hazard assessment plan as a medium-range priority, which means a five-to-six-year wait before it would be scheduled. A suggestion this be moved forward into the short-term priorities was defeated at budget time, but it may be returning to the table.

Clearly, the sight of thousands of Albertan homes filled with water and debris, not to mention the huge cost involved with disaster relief for the thousands of displaced, is sparking a renewed interest in flood mitigation measures.

Prevention is clearly a less-expensive option that disaster relief or restoration, should a severe flooding event take place. It seems wise for local politicians to take a good, hard look at these priorities. Just ask an Albertan.

Visit our Projects page for an overview of information gathered, and work done, to urge a flood hazard and risk assessment for Salmon Arm.
  top  home


Large-scale flooding has occurred in the Salmon River floodplain, and will occur again. These two important meetings, led by Professional Engineer Calvin VanBuskirk, who consults on geological hazards and risks throughout Western Canada, presented the essential information needed to understand why flooding is an important hazard for your property, home and business and what you can do about it now. top  home
Salmon River Bridge & flood concern meetings

Salmon River Bridge

Photo credit: Hugh Tyson


WA:TER's ongoing commitment is to understand and protect the biological and cultural diversity of the Salmon River delta and strengthen collaboration with First Nations and the community at large.

As part of the Kamloops to Alberta Four-Laning Program, WA:TER welcomes the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure (MOTI) plan to widen the Trans-Canada Highway from 30th St. SW (Wild Woodsman) to 10th St. SW (Shell Station).

At the same time, WA:TER is concerned that fixing the Salmon River Bridge is not included in the current plan. Frequent accidents due to its sharp curve and narrow width, and the fact that the bridge is mounted on a central pier where debris is easily trapped, increase the risk of Salmon River contamination and flood.

WA:TER is also concerned that this project is moving forward based on flood studies that are at least 20 years old. An up-to-date analysis of hazards and risks of flooding in the Salmon River floodplain, that takes into account global warming trends and Mountain Pine Beetle damage, is critically important. Making highway infrastructure changes without an up-to-date flood risk assessment puts Neskonlith Indian Band and Salmon Arm at risk, and seriously limit options for future flood mitigation.
  top  home


On June 4th, 2012, WA:TER joined with 500 organizations representing millions of Canadians to say: Silence is Not an Option.

The 2012 budget bill (Bill C-38) will weaken Canada's most important environmental laws and silence Canadians who want to defend them. Instead of using the usual process for sweeping changes, which allows for thorough debate, these changes were shoehorned into a 452-page budget bill.

[ West Coast Environmental Law and Ecojustice analysis:
TOP 10 items of environmental concern ]
  top  home
SC national website post

World Rivers Day poster


Barb Brower [Salmon Arm Observer - September 29, 2011]

It was a beautiful day by the Salmon River as some 300 people attended a traditional Secwepemc Gathering to celebrate World River's Day.

Not only did the event raise some $1,400 for projects late elder Dr. Mary Thomas held dear, it brought together natives and non-natives in a hospitable and fun environment - with some visiting from as far away as Europe.

"I think the best part was just having everyone there," said Mary's daughter Bonnie. "There was information-trading, laughing - it's very humbling. We really got the messages out that my mother wanted."

A member of the Switzmalph Society, Bonnie was thrilled with the number of groups with whom the band is partnering in restoring and protecting the delta: Shuswap Tourism/CSRD, BC Environmental Farm Plan, Shuswap Trail Alliance, Shuswap Naturalists and WA:TER. BC Redi funding obtained through Community Futures will also help move delta projects ahead.

"First and foremost to my mother was the importance of water - that's where life begins, in the womb," Bonnie said. "Water is also Mother Earth's blood, it has the power to create, to move...["]

A welcome by Neskonlith Chief Judy Wilson's was followed by Shuswap Nation Tribal Council spokesperson Wayne Christian, who called for co-operation. He took issue with governments he says spend billions of dollars fighting First Nations to the detriment of people and the environment.

"We've got to put people in public office that will work with First Nations," he said. "There are four sacred nations - red, brown, black and white."

Following other brief presentations, drumming, dancing and hilarious storytelling by Ken Thomas entertained a rapt audience. Others headed out on trail walks to learn more about the value of the river set to the rhythm of mother nature and native drumming.
  top  home

Community Information Meeting -


            March 15, 2011 @ 7 pm
            Salmon Arm First United Church

            Matthias Jakob, PhD. P.Geo., BGC Engineering
            Alan Bates, P. Eng. Hydrologist, Streamworks Unlimited
            Paul Doyle, P. Eng. Hydrologist, Doyle Engineering
            Bonnie Thomas, Switzmalph Cultural Society

How has the Salmon River shaped the rich and dynamic river delta? What have engineers and geoscientists learned about building on river deltas around the world? On Tuesday March 15 at 7 p.m. at First United Church (corner of Okanagan Ave & 4th St. SE) Salmon Arm's science based citizens group, WA:TER, and the Switzmalph Cultural Society, hosted three expert earth scientists to share their knowledge.


SAGA hosted a spectacular multi-media juried members' exhibition of Views of the Salmon River Delta. Whether this exhibition was dedicated to the future or to the past, it was about right now and taking the time to appreciate where the river meets the lake in Salmon Arm Bay. (Linda Franklin's painting is featured on the poster opposite.)
  top  home
Flooding Mtg Poster

Dr. Mary Thomas


Dr. Mary Thomas had a vision; collaboration amongst people who would value and preserve the gifts of nature. Mary Thomas, a respected Neskonlith Elder, dedicated her life to sharing the knowledge of the earth's bounty she had learned from her Grandmothers. The Mary Thomas Heritage Sanctuary, once created, will be dedicated to carrying on the legacy of Dr. Mary to advance the cultural values and knowledge of her people through collaboration and exchange, provide work for youth and others interested in learning and sharing cultural and environmental knowledge through the development of a variety of complementary social enterprises, protect a valuable environmentally and culturally sensitive wetlands area in the Salmon River estuary, and provide a world class environmental and cultural centre in the Shuswap. The Dr. Mary Thomas Heritage Sanctuary dream is a big step closer to becoming reality, having received a $260,000 REDI-BC grant. top  home


We were honoured to present esteemed Dr. Nancy Turner as the Rally for the River's keynote speaker September 29 at the Salmar Classic.

"Nancy is considered by her peers as the foremost ethnobotanist in Canada who has devoted her career to understanding the cultural context of plant uses," says Dr. John Schofield, Dean of Social Sciences. "Her research with First Nations cultures has set the standard for collaborative research with indigenous people and demonstrates how important their knowledge of native plants and ecological interactions are for understanding the environment in those areas."
  top  home
SC national website post

Photo credit: Deddeda Stemler