VERNON – Those looking to escape the heat into the North Arm of Okanagan Lake will want to change their plans.
The Okanagan Indian Band says a previous report of raw sewage has been assessed and results showed a combination of sewage output, grass, leaves, burlap, sand, dead animals, and with the added heat, an algae bloom.
Higher than normal temperatures, changing water levels, and an increase in nutrients entering the water can increase the presence of blue-green algae blooms, the band says.
“At this time there is no odour, and as the algae bloom becomes oxygenated a distinct sulphur odour will be a natural release,” the band says in an information release.
People are advised not to go into or have any contact with the water, and the same goes for pets and livestock. While 30 to 50 per cent of cyanobacteria is not harmful, several species can produce toxins, the band says. Someone who has contact with toxic algaen may develop a skin irritation in their eyes, ears, nose and throat. Consuming toxic algae, either by eating a contaminated fish or accidentally swallowing water, can cause headaches, diarrhea, vomiting, fever and abdominal pain. Serious cases can be fatal, the band says.
Cyanobacteria and toxic algae can also have devastating effects on aquatic ecosystems.
The Ministry of Environment was informed of the presence of raw sewage in the lake, according to an earlier information release.
Raw sewage can contain a variety of things that can cause illness, from E. Coli to Cholera, and is likely to cause infection in open wounds. The raw sewage may contain feces, urine, blood and cleaning chemicals, according to the release.
To contact a reporter for this story, email Charlotte Helston or call 250-309-5230 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.
We welcome your comments and opinions on our stories but play nice. We won't censor or delete comments unless they contain off-topic statements or links, unnecessary vulgarity, false facts, spam or obviously fake profiles. If you have any concerns about what you see in comments, email the editor in the link above.