By Kelsey Verboom

The Columbia Valleys waterways burst their banks in many areas this week, causing more than just sodden feet.

Places close to Lake Windermeres shoreline, like Petes Marina, were completely surrounded by water. Roadways near CastleRock and on Lower Lakeview Drive collapsed in places, as muddy runoff loosened rock and pavement. Some who dwell close to the waters edge, like John Blakely and Monita Gauvin (see story, page 2), had to get creative and paddle themselves via canoe to and from their home.

Historical photos from the Windermere Valley Museum show that this type of flooding has certainly happened before, and to even more extreme degrees. There are photos of Athalmer and its buildings several feet underwater, and children splashing in the unusually high waters.

The sudden swelling of so many of the valleys rivers and lakes draws attention to just how much the valleys communities centre around our watersheds.

Historically, watersheds have been governed by the provincial government, as directed by the Canadian Constitution. What many may not know, is that more recently, the government has been exploring options to share and delegate planning and decision-making power of watershed use to local groups and/or governments with invested interest in their watersheds.

According to the governments Living Water Smart website (, this would occur within clear provincial standards and oversight. But what would that look like? What would the process be?

As citizens living in an area flush with water, it is in our best interest to stay tuned-in to this issue as it develops, to make sure local watershed governance stays in the right hands, and with proper accountability.

We want to know what you think: who should control watershed governance? If it is delegated to local groups, who should or shouldnt be in control, and why? Email your thoughts in a letter to