To the editor:
A rapid proliferation of Eurasian milfoil has occurred this year in Okanagan Lake north of Mission Creek due in part to unprecedented high spring temperatures and high flows, nutrient and sediment loads in the creek. These conditions resulting in heavy scouring and redistribution of milfoil and sediments in the foreshore area. The result is the beaches are more shallow and nutrient rich than in past years allowing the submerged plants to grow faster and denser. North of Mission Creek, very dense patches of milfoil are found within 300 meters of shore and power boats have been observed leaving milfoil cuttings in their wake, which float northwards and towards the shore to form new colonies.
One area that is heavily colonized is the foreshore area off of the newly designated parkland at the foot of Cedar Ave. This beach is sandy and up until now was an excellent shallow swimming beach. Now the bay is full of milfoil and poses safety risks to swimmers and paddlers.
It is very encouraging to see Okanagan Basin Water Board moving quickly to engage the community and to address this rapidly emerging problem. According to the Board this milfoil bloom is the worst in 30 years. The Board is hopeful it can secure provincial approval and increase funding from stakeholders to expand its 2015 summer milfoil cutting program. Hopefully, federal, provincial and local stakeholders will hear the Board’s message and be able to react quickly and with foresight to help fund this initiative. Perhaps the Chamber of Commerce and the Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association will also support the program since tourism is such a large part of the Okanagan economy.
In this regard, the KLONA neighbourhood association north of Mission Creek is working with the Board and stakeholders to raise awareness of the issues and to urge local officials to be adaptive and to support and fund an expanded milfoil cutting program along Kelowna’s shoreline.
Richard Drinnan, Kelowna