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Milfoil removal on Vaseux Lake delayed

FILE PHOTO - An effort to harvest milfoil out of Vaseux Lake has stalled after potential ill-effects of the project were identified.
October 20, 2017 - 4:30 PM

PENTICTON - Plans to treat milfoil on Vaseux Lake have stalled after concerns were raised over potential side effects of stirring up the lake bottom.

A report to Okanagan Basin Water Board by operations and grants manager James Littley says the proposal to rototill around 24 per cent of the surface area of the lake has several issues that need to be addressed before the work can get underway, including permitting and First Nations concerns.

This would be a first for milfoil rototilling in Vaseux Lake, creating concerns about what may be released from the lake’s sediments, the report says. The issue is of special concern because of the lake’s small and shallow nature, as the project intends to cover almost a quarter of the lake’s total area.

Initial discussions with Dr. jeff Curtis at UBC Okanagan indicates there is a possibility for the release of lead, arsenic, nitrate, and phosphorus and other chemicals, which could lead to toxic bacteria and algae growth affecting not only Vaseux Lake but downstream water bodies as well.

Littley says the benefits of milfoil removal in Vaseux Lake, which included long-term water quality benefits and improved shoreline recreation, may be overshadowed by the potential for “drastic” impacts on the health of Osoyoos Lake downstream.

Littley also noted the water board has yet to receive a permit to work on the lake.

The lake does not have a boat launch large enough to accommodate the water board’s harvesting machines, but Littley says he has been working with Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen public works staff to find a suitable launch location.

Littley also says there are outstanding concerns the work may disrupt possible First Nations cultural and archaeological sites.  

Vaseux Lake residents have been urging the regional district to conduct a clean up of the lake, saying this past spring the milfoil issue was the worst they had ever seen.


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