Projects aiming to protect and improve Shuswap water quality will get a boost thanks to incoming grant funding.
The Shuswap Watershed Council invited applicants to the Watershed Quality grant program in December last year, looking to fund project ideas that limit the amount of nutrient runoff from land into the area’s bodies of water.
The funding goes to farms, landowners and stewardship groups to help get projects that fit the council’s mission started.
“Nutrients, especially phosphorus, are an important factor of water quality and soil health,” explained Erin Vieira, program manager for the SWC. “It’s needed for healthy soil and productive crops, but it’s also a key factor contributing to algal blooms – when more phosphorus and other nutrients flow into the lake, the likelihood of water quality issues and algal blooms can increase.”
The council’s goal is to support farmers and land stewards who want to be proactive and work to improve and protect the Shuswap’s water quality.
One of the grant recipients is Rivershore Nursery in Mara, owned and operated by Katherine Lawrence and Peter Barss. They will use the funding to upgrade irrigation infrastructure on their land to a more efficient drip system, reducing water use and decreasing runoff.
The tree nursery will also be planting cover crops on four acres to improve soil health, and inoculating new planting stock with mycorrhizal fungi which improves the trees’ ability to intake nutrients. This will decrease the need for fertilizer use on Rivershore’s land.
The four other grant recipients for 2023 include: Crystal Lake Ranch in Malakwa, where funds will be used to build livestock control fencing along the Eagle River; Shuswap Organics in Enderby, for planting cover crops and incorporating no-till practices to build up soil health and improve nutrient retention; Fresh Valley Farms, north of Armstrong, who will build a Rova Barn (a self-moving, solar-powered, GPS-controlled shelter) to automate pastured livestock management, build soil health and protect sensitive areas on their farm; and Iron Horse Ranch in Celista to build new riparian fencing and off-stream watering for its livestock.
The total value of the grants is $53,004.
The final expense was approved at the SWC’s March meeting and work on the projects will begin this year. The projects’ budgets will leverage other cash and in-kind donations to total $109,629.
Since its inception in 2020, the Shuswap Water Council has awarded 13 grants worth $178,169.
The next round of grant intakes will be in November. For more information, visit shuswapwater.ca.