Studies show E. coli and invasive species prominent in Kalavista Lagoon - InfoNews

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Studies show E. coli and invasive species prominent in Kalavista Lagoon

Simone Runyan (left) and Allen Hanson discover a western painted turtle in the Kalavista Lagoon on May 26, 2018.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/The Society for the Protection of Kalamalka Lake
April 01, 2019 - 5:01 PM

COLDSTREAM - It may look like a small murky pond, but Kalavista Lagoon in Coldstream is a diverse and ecologically important habitat to the species that live there and a new report paints a clearer picture of the issues it faces.

The Society for the Protection of Kalamalka Lake has released the findings of two studies conducted on the lagoon last year. The report shows that the one-acre pond that sits just off Kalamalka Road, 50 metres from Kalamalka Lake, faces a multitude of different challenges from high E. coli levels to invasive species and a drop in the water level.

"It's an important part of the ecosystem for the area because there isn't another pond around," said Simone Runyan who led last year's studies.

Runyan, who works for Kestrel Ecological Consultants, said the pond was created in the 1940s when 60 acres of marshland was developed into a subdivision. Runyan said over 80 per cent of wetlands in the Okanagan and Similkameen Valleys has been lost to development over the years.

"Wetlands are really important for wildlife, even wildlife that doesn't live in wetlands comes down for some portion of their life," Runyan said.

The 2018 studies were the first conducted in a decade and identified a large population of carp living in the pond. Runyan said they discovered around 60 carp - which are an invasive species that like shallow warm water - in the pond. The fish use the pond for breeding and add to the destruction of aquatic plant life in the pond and eat the eggs of invertebrates living in the lagoon.

To help remedy the damage caused by the carp, the District of Coldstream is set to install a carp fence, which will prevent the fish travelling along the 50 metre canal that connects the pond with Kal Lake. Runyan said the study found six times the amount of carp it takes to cause environmental damage in the lagoon.

The study also found a decline in the number of western painted turtles found in the lake. Classified by both the federal and provincial governments as species of "special concern" the study counted 13 turtles in the pond compared to a 2017 count of 18. Runyan couldn't say the carp population was a direct result of this, but did say any invasive species does displace a native species in some way.

"They upset an ecological balance," she said.

The high levels of E. coli are a concern because of the ponds proximity to a water intake used for drinking water by the City of Vernon.

Along with high E. coli levels thought to have come from waterfowl, the lagoons water level is dropping. Runyan said the lagoon completely freezes in winter which affects the invertebrates living there. If the lagoon becomes too shallow, turtles and other invertebrates will no longer be able to live there.

While installing the carp fence will help, other measures could also be taken such as sediment removal, to deepen the lagoon and stop the water level falling.

"If they don't the turtle habitat will be lost," Runyan said

The Society for the Protection of Kalamalka Lake will now monitor the effects the carp fence has on the pond and is currently seeking funding for a followup study.


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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2019
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