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In 1998, the City of Kelowna completed a State of Environment Report. This report compiled information for air, land, and water quality. In order to measure and track environmental change in Kelowna, twenty-two environmental indicators were chosen; thirteen, of which, directly examine watershed health issues.

An indicator is something that points to a problem or condition and its purpose is to show how well a system is working. Indicators are used for:

measuring progress in meeting targets or goals

educating the community


focusing action

allocating resources

Finding indicators that meet all the criteria for effectiveness can be extremely difficult. However, effective indicators have certain characteristics in common:

understandable to the community at large

developed and accepted by the people in the community

link economy, society and environment

focus on long-range view

based on relevant, reliable, and timely information

Indicators are necessary to determine watershed health because they measure and determine the current state of the watershed, and over time, may show future trends. Several indicators are necessary to give a broad picture of the health of the watershed. Information provided by indicators can help decision-makers take corrective action and plan for the future.

Since watersheds are the basic unit of ecological systems, traditional physical and chemical water quality parameters alone cannot fully determine watershed health. Chosen indicators must be diverse and include information regarding water quantity, land use management, and ecological or biophysical health.

Each indicator provides a description of cause and effect, describing:

Pressure: activity causing state

State: condition that exists

Response: actions to change state

The City is currently gathering information on selected watershed health indicators and will attempt to report the data and trends in a meaningful and understandable way. A web page will be made available to the public and a yearly printed report is planned.

Continued monitoring will ensure that the City makes good progress in meeting its targets. To ensure that we stay on track, the indicators monitored will be reassessed every three to five years. New indicators may also be developed over time to help broaden our understanding of our environmental health.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: January 1, 2000

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  • Proceedings of the Water Environment Federation is an archive of papers published in the proceedings of the annual Water Environment Federation® Technical Exhibition and Conference (WEFTEC® ) and specialty conferences held since the year 2000. These proceedings are not peer reviewed.

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