Okanagan Indian Band (OKIB) - Water System Improvements Project

“At the heart of what the Syilx Okanagan People believe is that we have come from the land and animals themselves. Before humans were created, animal people lived on the land and gave up themselves along with their ways, beliefs, practices, and experiences for the people-to-be.” WATER QUALITY The Okanagan Indian Band, which is the northernmost community in the Syilx Nation, lays at the head of the Okanagan Lake near Vernon, BC. Despite being located on the Okanagan Lake, it is almost ironic that some members of the Syilx Nation have never known what it is like to have clear, clean drinking water flowing from their taps, despite living so to a close to an abundance of water. Okanagan Indian Band has six water systems, five of which have water quality issues. For years, high levels of manganese in the Irish Creek/Head of the Lake community water system have led to drinking water advisories related to both poor water quality and insufficient supply. Manganese, which causes aesthetic issues like discoloured water (brownish red), staining of clothing and plumbing fixtures (faucets, sinks), and tastes and odours. Manganese can also have health effects, particularly for young infants and children, including neurological and behavioural effects, as well as deficits in memory, attention and motor skills. In addition to the manganese issue, the water quality was generally poor (appearance, taste, and odour). The Okanagan Indian Band needed safe water. The Head of the Lake community water system 4