The Shuswap Watershed Council (SWC) is awarding five grants this year to help farm businesses in the Shuswap watershed improve nutrient management, and ultimately protect water quality by reducing nutrient-loading to creeks and rivers.

“We’re very excited to be launching our Water Quality Grant Program,” said Paul Demenok, chair of the SWC. “We’ve been working toward this for several years. We’ve recently completed a three-year research project with UBC Okanagan, the results of which were important for directing water quality improvement and our grant program.”

“Nutrients are an important factor of water quality and soil health,” added Erin Vieira, program manager for the SWC. “Our goal with the grant program is to help farmers keep nutrients on the land and in the soil, not running off or leaching into nearby creeks and rivers.”

Vieira explained that research conducted by UBC-Okanagan revealed that the majority of nutrient-loading to the Shuswap River and Salmon River, the two largest tributaries to the Shuswap Lake system, has been coming from agricultural and urban lands in the valley bottoms. The results also showed that nutrient-loading to the lakes has been trending upward since about the 1990s.

“The research findings are consistent with other similar studies done in other parts of the world,” said Vieira. “Agricultural and other land-use impacts on water quality aren’t unique to the Shuswap, it’s been happening around the world for decades. It’s a process called cultural eutrophication.”

“As a Council, we wanted to learn more about this and intervene so that we can help prevent excess nutrients from reducing water quality,” added Demenok. “Our water quality here is still quite good, and through working together we hope to keep it that way. The last thing we want is to look back, 10 or 20 years from now and think, ‘We really should’ve done something sooner.’”

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Grants are being awarded to the following five recipients:

  1. Lakeland Farms (Mike Schroeder)
  2. Hillside Dreams Goat Dairy (Merel and Barrie Voth)
  3. Swaan Farms (Neil Swaan)
  4. Grass Root Dairies (Gary and Kathy Wikkerink)
  5. C. Cattlemens Association in partnership with Splatsin First Nation.

The total value of the grants being awarded is $65,470. The expense was approved at the June 17th SWC meeting, with grants being awarded to the recipients pending site visits to the farms.

Grant funding will go toward enhancing on-farm nutrient management practices such as manure storage, manure effluent capture, riparian restoration, livestock exclusion fencing, and cover crop demonstration.

“I appreciate the Shuswap Watershed Council partnering with me to complete an effluent run-off collection project,” said Neil Swaan, a dairy farmer and one of the grant recipients. Swaan is putting grant funding toward the installation of a ‘Harvestore’ system that pumps effluent from a manure pile into a tank on his farm. “Not only is it a benefit to the environment by keeping run off out of the water, it’s also a way for the farm to collect nutrient-rich effluent for appropriate use later.”

The Shuswap Watershed Council (SWC) is a watershed-based partnership organization that works on water quality and safe recreation in the Shuswap.

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