Letter: OBWB has increased work on milfoil since last winter

In addition to putting an extra operator on, OBWB plans to expand the work areas and seasonal work windows.

To the editor:

The Okanagan Basin Water Board (OBWB) is the agency in charge of managing milfoil in Okanagan lakes.

In a recent letter to the editor, Homeowner Wants Milfoil Scoured From Shoreline (July 10 Kelowna Capital News), Michael Neill stated that the weeds in the lake are out of control. Indeed, this year is the worst milfoil growth our operators have seen in at least 30 years. (Most Severe Milfoil Bloom in 30 Years, July 10 Kelowna Capital News.)

Far from neglecting the Kelowna foreshore, last winter we put extra staff and machine time into rototilling known milfoil beds. In areas we rototill, it’s relatively controlled. What’s surprising are the number of new beds in new places, and the fast, early growth throughout the valley. The unseasonably warm spring weather and lake temperatures are contributing to the problem, as are the changing lake depths.

In 2012 and 2013 there were several extreme rain events causing very high flows in Mission Creek, and a big slug of sediment dislodged by these flows has moved out into the lake. The sediment has caused closure of a portion of the Cook Road boat launch, and also appears to have created several large new shallow water areas for the milfoil to grow.

This summer, in addition to putting an extra operator on to increase the machine time of the harvesting equipment, the OBWB plans to map the location of the new beds, and survey the substrates along the shoreline to potentially expand the work areas and seasonal work windows allowed under our environmental permit.

We fully agree with Mr. Neill— the lakes are the Okanagan’s most precious resource. As conditions change with the climate, the weather, and the shoreline, we are working to adapt our program.

Anna Warwick Sears, PhD,

executive director, OBWB