Logging not major factor in Peachland water issues, forestry practices board says - InfoNews

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Logging not major factor in Peachland water issues, forestry practices board says

Clearcutting not blamed for Peachland water issues.
Image Credit: FILE PHOTO
September 05, 2019 - 11:28 AM

VICTORIA - An investigation into the impacts of forestry activities on drinking water from the Peachland and Trepanier community watersheds has found that forest licensees did a good job of minimizing the impacts of logging on water and that natural processes played a much larger role in the boil water advisories that Peachland has experienced in recent years, says a forestry watchdog.

"There were high snow accumulation and significant rainfall events during the spring snowmelt of 2017 and 2018 that led to increases in the amount of sediment in the water," Kevin Kriese, chair, Forest Practices Board said in a press release. "The investigation also confirmed that a landslide that led to a boil water advisory was the result of natural stream dynamics and saturated soils and was not caused by forestry activity."

In addition to natural processes, the investigation found other developments and activities that may be contributing sediment to streams and potentially affecting water quality. These include roads built prior to current road construction standards, logging, ranching, mining and agriculture, as well as commercial and public recreation, private properties, a power line and Highway 97C.

"While forestry and range activities are regulated by the Forest and Range Practices Act to minimize impacts to water quality and quantity, no one is responsible for managing the cumulative impacts of all activities in these watersheds,"  Kriese said. "The auditor general's recent report on drinking water protection points out systemic gaps in accountability and co-ordination for drinking water protection."

The District of Peachland along with the Peachland Watershed Protection Alliance had asked the provincial government to put a pause on clearcutting in the area’s watersheds.

The investigation was done in response to a complaint from a member of the Peachland Watershed Protection Alliance who suggested forestry activities were impacting water quality and leading to a number of boil water advisories. The Peachland and Trepanier watersheds, along with Okanagan Lake, supply drinking water to Peachland.

The Forest Practices Board is B.C.'s independent watchdog for sound forest and range practices, reporting its findings and recommendations directly to the public and government. The board investigates public complaints about forest and range practices on public lands and appropriateness of government enforcement. It can also make recommendations for improvement to practices and legislation.

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