Okanagan Water: Uses and Concerns

Water is changing and so is its purpose.

By: Paige Reekie

Water is a important part of life, and not just for humans. Water has been important since the beginning of time. In this photo essay I am going to take you on a journey beginning 2000 years ago and taking you to the present day. We know the common uses for water which include bathing, drinking, cleaning, but lets dig a little deeper. Lets discover what we are doing to the water, and how the have the demands changed? Are we hurting the water cycle?


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To the first nations who claimed the Okanagan, water was more than a liquid running through a pipe, it was sacred. It kept the mind, body, and spirit clean. It allowed for animals and plants to live and grow, which provided food and hydration for the people.

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Transportation: 2000 years ago: First Nations

The people of this time were always moving to hunting grounds with more food, or to communicate with others tribes. Boats were the quickest and easiest way to travel. The rivers were the roads.
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Transportation: 500 years ago: The European Settlers

Boat travel was still used for trading goods, but also for moving around the valley, they used boats instead of the bridge which we currently have to get across. For short travels like these they used sternwheelers like in the photo above.
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Transportation: Current Day

Just like many years ago, the water is used for trading goods and transporting people, but now the technology is more advanced. We are able to have waterways, like the one in Vancouver above. These waterways are roads for water taxi's, now powered by motor to make the trip faster. Also large ships carrying goods from across the world into the city and Canada.
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Water, as mentioned above, is an important part to what is on our dinner plate. The one thing the Okanagan Valley has always been good at providing is fruit from our orchards. The First Nations did not have orchards, but once the Europeans came, the fruit growing started.
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Washing/Cleaning: Years Ago

Years ago this would be your tap, shower, dishwasher, and washing machine. They did not have the luxury of water coming directly to their homes. Water lived in nature.
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Washing/Cleaning: Current Day

We now have the luxury of having water delivered to our homes. We have devices that do the washing and cleaning for us. Sinks, washing machines, dishwashers and showers are good examples of this. The majority of us no longer have to work to collect water, it has become easier.
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The Gold Rush: 1848: The European Settlers

Who knew rivers could make people rich? In the mid eighteen hundreds, gold was being found in rivers. Many became rich and it also created chaos and greed. This was a huge part of this time period, and it all happened because of the water eroding the ground causing the gold to be on the surface.
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Public Works

In current day water is also used as decoration, not only for survival. There can be fountains in many places, gardens, parks, or even malls like the picture above.
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Machine Power

At a fast pace water can have a lot of force. Using modern day technology we have been able to use this power to make things other that boats move. One of the mot important ones is the hydro-electric dam. This eco-friendly way of making electricity powers most of British Columbia. The picture above is the turbine of the dam, my father took it, he works with these.
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Water can be fun, people have been swimming for thousands of years. As technology advances we are able to do more on the lake of in a pool. Such as stand-up paddle boarding, or kayaking. Even more technological advanced, skiing, boarding, or tubing behind a motor boat, or waterslides. Even water-powered jetpacks.
Although many of the uses stay along the same line, entertainment, transportation, and agriculture, the technology changes. Water uses are changing to make our life easier, its become more about us, and less about nature.


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Where does the river go?

As the First Nations and Europeans travelled down a new river they did not have maps to point out where the rapids or waterfalls are. Both of these options would be deadly. As you set out to find new land, you never know what is around the bend.
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Will the water freeze?

Years ago the lake did freeze over. When the First Nations were here they didn't have the technology to dig through thick ice. if the couldn't reach the water they would still be able to melt snow to drink, but traveling by river, and fishing was an impossible task .
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Floods have always been a concern. If they reach structures it will cause extreme damage, maybe even take the structure with it. All animals will flee, and it is common for people to die.
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With water being everywhere is life, a shortage of clean water is dangerous. Normally there is enough water to sustain human life, but grass and other plants begin to dry out, as seen in the photo above. This is an extreme wild fire hazard. Its not only animals and humans that needs water. This has always been a threat.
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This has always been an uncontrollable part of the water cycle. If it comes as a hurricane, tornado, or tsunami it can be extremely deadly. No one can escape it.
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Is it Clean?

As science technology increases we are able to see how much bacteria is in our water. With all the garbage around we are just making it worse. This is a modern day problem, it may only get worse.
Many of these worries are uncontrollable and have always been around. they become less of a threat as time passes because we may be able to evacuate the area, or receive world-wide support, years ago you were on your own. Clean water concerns have always been around, but science is just allowing us to discover it now.

How have we affected water?

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Pollution. That's the only word I have to say. In order to build our new technology for entertainment, or to make our life easier, factories pollute the air. The air is the gas faze of the water cycle. As we use resources that are not natural, more litter builds up along the sea shores. We are getting sick because of dirty water, we are the cause of it.