The Shuswap Watershed Council (SWC) is inviting applications to its Water Quality Grant Program for the second year running.

“One of the SWC’s primary objectives is to protect and maintain the water quality in Shuswap and Mara Lakes,” said Erin Vieira, program manager for the SWC. “In particular, we’re focussed on reducing nutrient inputs to rivers and lakes.”

Excessive amounts of nutrients, especially phosphorus, are known to contribute to algal blooms, which reduce the quality of water for drinking and recreation. They can also become toxic for people, pets, and livestock.

“The goal of the grant program is to help farmers and landowners keep nutrients on the land and in the soil, being used by crops and vegetation—not washing off into nearby creeks and rivers through rain, snowmelt, or flooding,” said Vieira.

Up to $85,000 is available in 2021. Farmers, agri-businesses, landowners, and others are invited to apply for funding to go toward projects or land management practices that reduce, divert, or capture nutrients.

“After the positive outcomes achieved with the 2020 program, we’re very pleased to offer our grant program for a second year,” said Paul Demenok, chair of the SWC. “We look forward to creating new partnerships in the Shuswap to protect our water quality while simultaneously helping farms and other land holdings reduce their phosphorus footprint.”

“The grant program is one of the ways the SWC is taking action on our research findings,” added Vieira, referring to a three-year research project that the SWC did with UBC-Okanagan. Research results showed that the greatest proportion of nutrients in the lakes originate from the settled valley bottoms of the Shuswap River and Salmon River, where there are farms and homes.

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More information about the grant program and how to apply is available here. The application period closes on April 30, 2020.

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