Area ranchers keeping a close eye on river levels

By Adam Donnelly
April 23, 2019 - 4:51pm Updated: April 23, 2019 - 5:31pm

KAMLOOPS — With snowpack levels as low as 66 per cent of normal throughout the TNRD, there’s no doubt many in the region will be watching water levels as the spring as summer wear on. One group keeping an especially close eye on the situation will be cattle producers, as they rely on water to produce winter feed for their herds, among other uses.

Kevin Boon, the BC Cattlemen’s Association General Manager, says his members rely on a variety of water sources to ensure they can keep their cattle healthy year-round. He says in years like this when snowpack numbers are down across the board, and ranchers start planning to make sure that as the weather heats up, the water they have available will be enough to fill their needs.

“The snowpack is one part of the formula we depend on heavily for the production of our cattle,” Boon explained. “More so for the feed requirements to get us through the winter; for stored water and to be irrigated off of it. We’re really trying to develop as much water storage in the province as possible. When we look at climate change and the increases in temperature and the decreases in the snow on years like this is: how do we manage that water? And the only way we can do it is through water storage.”

Boon said after a dry summer in 2018, and many ranchers had to look elsewhere to purchase feed for their cattle over this past winter. That means many ranchers will be working hard this summer to ensure they have enough feed for their herds, while also providing the overall health of the river system they draw from remains intact.

“We were short last year, so there’s no carry-over. We’re going to depend on this year very heavily,” Boon said. “Water and water storage will be a major factor thought the year. The grass isn’t going to grow without it, the cattle can’t drink, and the fish can’t spawn [without water]… Water is the biggest concern we have to contend with that we have no control over.”

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