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

B.C's COVID-19 dashboard shows the peaks and valleys of cases prior to the record daily report of 132 on April 9, 2021. (Dashboard image)
Interior Health has record day of COVID-19 cases

132 cases reported Friday, April 9, more deaths in Vernon hospital outbreak

(File photo)
Water quality advisory rescinded for Lakeview/Rose Valley Water System

There is no other water quality advisories in West Kelowna

Passengers make their way through Montreal–Trudeau International Airport in Montreal, Saturday, December 19, 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
Dining indoors at YLW’s White Spot allowed despite public health orders

Airport post-security restaurants and BC Ferries cafeterias are exempt from the public health order

(Stock photo)
Snow levels above normal in Okanagan

Spring temperatures, rainfall will affect risk of flooding

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and Premier John Horgan describe vaccine rollout at the legislature, March 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
1,262 more COVID-19 infections in B.C. Friday, 9,574 active cases

Province’s mass vaccination reaches one million people

Vernon Secondary School. (Google Maps)
Case of COVID-19 at North Okanagan high school

VSS exposure announced late Friday, April 9

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

The Royal’s 1951 visit to Revelstoke. (Photo by Revelstoke Museum and Archives #17)
PHOTOS: Prince Philip visited Revelstoke – twice

The prince died April 9 at the age of 99

Nolan's Pharmasave in downtown Vernon received 200 AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines Friday, April 9, 2021. (Brendan Shykora - Morning Star)
AstraZeneca vaccines arrive at Vernon pharmacies

Four pharmacies in the city received doses of the COVID-19 inoculant Friday

The RCMP were called to the Alchemy Studio on Thursday, April 8. (Contributed)
Revelstoke yoga class fined for defying COVID-19 orders

The RCMP were called to the Alchemy Studio on April 8

An East Hill resident had their leaf bags torched in front of their home overnight April 8. Less than two weeks prior their garbage can was lit on fire too. (Taryn Allen photo)
Garbage, leaf fires spark fear in North Okanagan

First an East Hill residents’ trash can, then bagged leaves were lit on fire

Okanagan-based All Are Family Outreach Society, which provides support to those struggling from Armstrong to Kelowna, is in need of a new headquarters after leaving a Winfield church in June 2020. (All Are Family Outreach photo)
Okanagan outreach society in ‘desperate’ need after storage unit break-in

All Are Family Outreach had $4,000 in tools stolen from its donation shipping container

Most Read