Mussel inspection sit set up at B.C.-Alberta border. (Contributed)

Mussel inspection sit set up at B.C.-Alberta border. (Contributed)

Okanagan Basin Water Board calls for stronger invasive mussel protection

Letter sets out six recommendations for environment minister George Heyman to consider

The Okanagan Basin Water Board (OBWB) wants the province to adopt enhanced measures to protect valley waterways from an economically devastating zebra and quagga mussels infestation.

The water board has sent a letter to B.C. Minister of Environment and Climate Change George Heyman with a list of six specific new calls to action.

The concern arises from the Okanagan tagged as the number one destination for potential invasive mussel-infested watercraft in B.C., coupled with close proximity to the Shuswap watershed, another high-level area of mussel infestation concern.

Motor boat checked for invasive mussels at inspection station. (Contributed)

“Being the number one destination for zebra or quagga-mussel infested watercraft is not what we want to be known for,” said Sue McKortoff, chair of the OBWB and the mayor of Osoyoos.

“We need stronger measures to protect Okanagan and B.C. waters, the source of community drinking water, home to a recovering fishery, iconic beaches and water sports.”

According to the province’s reporting, 16 watercraft entering B.C. this past inspection season were confirmed carrying adult invasive mussels. Twelve of these were from Ontario, and one was from Manitoba. (The other three were being commercially transported from the U.S.). Of these 16, at least seven were headed to the Okanagan.

Also of concern is information shared at this week’s OBWB board meeting from its partner, the Okanagan and Similkameen Invasive Species Society (OASISS), indicating only 67 per cent of out-of-province boaters the society surveyed in the Okanagan last summer reported stopping at an inspection station.

This survey included socially-distanced interactions with 361 watercraft at 11 boat launches.

The six recommendations outlined in the letter to Heyman included:

  1. Restore core inspection program funding to at least 2017 levels of $3.8 million and adjust for inflation going forward.
  2. Introduce “pull-the-plug” legislation and supporting regulations for enforcement this summer.
  3. Review and update the provincial Early Detection, Rapid Response plan (EDRR), to include specific long-term planning for waterbody or regional quarantines once an infestation is found in B.C.
  4. Provide tool-kits and resources for local governments to conduct vulnerability assessments, and to implement mitigation measures like retrofitting in-water infrastructure.
  5. Introduce legislation to require all out-of-province watercraft to be inspected prior to being launched in B.C. waters.
  6. Provide additional funding to invasive species groups in high-risk regions for monitoring, outreach and education.

A study for the OBWB found an invasive mussel infestation would cost the Okanagan at least $42 million annually to just manage.

In response, the water board and its Okanagan WaterWise outreach program launched the “Don’t Move A Mussel” campaign in 2013 and has funded additional outreach and mussel monitoring by OASISS.

In all, the OBWB has spent more than $565,000, and thanks to media partners have delivered a campaign worth over $847,000.

READ MORE: Society uses video to combat mussels

READ MORE: Public told to watch for invasive mussels, clams in Shuswap Lake

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

An RCMP helicopter pictured during the afternoon of Feb. 5 flying above the Morice West Forest Service Road. (Trevor Hewitt photo)
Police helicopter, dog used in Enderby arrest of wanted Penticton man

School put on lockdown as precaution while pair flee roadblock

Kendra Blakely, of Lake Country, was born an amputee but thanks to the War Amps Child Amputee program she has been able to take part in activities as a child and now into her 20s. (War Amps photos)
War Amps swings in support for Lake Country CHAMP

Key tag program celebrates 75 years of helping amputees like Kendra

A student works in a science class at L.A. Matheson Secondary on Friday, March 12, 2021. (Photo: Lauren Collins)
COVID-19 exposures at 2 Central Okanagan schools

Ellison Elementary and Ècole Kelowna Secondary School are reporting exposures

Nolan Foote becomes the 62nd Rocket to suit up in an NHL regular-season game on Sunday afternoon (Photo: Kelowna Rockets)
Former Kelowna Rockets captain plays first NHL game

Nolan Foote played his first game with the New Jersey Devils on Sunday

Pastor Cliff Siebert of the Okanagan Landing Community Church (centre) addresses some of his congregation in-person for the first time in many months Sunday, April 18, as the church held the first of what they hope will be regular outdoor services with COVID protocols adhered to and obeyed. (Roger Knox - Morning Star)
Vernon church hosts outdoor service

Okanagan Landing Community Church put strict COVID protocols in place to hold sermon in back parking lot

In this image from NASA, NASA’s experimental Mars helicopter Ingenuity lands on the surface of Mars Monday, April 19, 2021. The little 4-pound helicopter rose from the dusty red surface into the thin Martian air Monday, achieving the first powered, controlled flight on another planet. (NASA via AP)
VIDEO: NASA’s Mars helicopter takes flight, 1st for another planet

The $85 million helicopter demo was considered high risk, yet high reward

Carver Ken Sheen had almost finished work on a large cowboy carving commissioned by the City of Williams Lake to replace the original overlooking the Stampede Grounds when fire broke out Friday, April 18 at his property between Williams Lake and Quesnel. (Pine River Carving Facebook photos)
Cow boss statue destined for Williams Lake Stampede Grounds goes up in flames

Carver Ken Sheen lost the statue, all his tools and his shop in the blaze

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

B.C. Labour Minister Harry Bains. (Hansard TV)
B.C. moves to protect employee pay for COVID-19 vaccination

Most won’t need to take time off work, labour minister says

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Susan Kootnekoff is the founder of Inspire Law, an Okanagan based-law practice, and provides Kelowna Capital News with weekly stories from the world of local, national and international law. (Contributed)
Kootnekoff: B.C. ESA vaccine amendments

Susan Kootnekoff is the founder of Inspire Law, her diverse legal career spans over 20 years

Kelowna City Hall. (Michael Rodriguez - Capital News)
City of Kelowna sues alleged vandals

The city is suing two men, alleging they have damaged city property with graffiti over the years

New figures show Canadian housing prices outpacing those in other developed countries. (Black Press Media file photo)
Canadian housing prices fastest rising in the world

Relative to 2000, housing prices have risen by a factor of more than 2.5

Most Read