Vernon mayor questions 'underlying science' preventing fight against invasive milfoil in Okanagan Lake | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Vernon mayor questions 'underlying science' preventing fight against invasive milfoil in Okanagan Lake

Rototilling on Okanagan Lake
November 22, 2020 - 7:00 AM

In an effort to improve the water quality at Kin Beach, Vernon council is bringing into question the science that prevents it from taking measures to control the aquatic invasive species which are lowering the water quality at the popular swimming spot.

A notice of motion put forward by City of Vernon Mayor Victor Cumming asks staff to investigate the underlying science related to the "endangered" classification of the Rocky Mountain Ridge Mussels, which has recently been discovered in large quantities in the East Arm of Okanagan Lake near Kin Beach.

The endangered status of Rocky Mountain Ridge Mussels has been a contentious issue since the province placed restrictions on where rototilling could take place in an effort to protect the mussels.

READ MORE: Province should make exemption to milfoil rototilling ban to fight invasive species

Rototilling has been used for decades to combat the invasive Eurasian Milfoil and not-for-profit organization the Okanagan Basin Water Board has been highly critical of the restrictions placed on rototilling. The Okanagan Basin Water Board has questioned the effect rototilling has on disturbing the Rocky Mountain Ridge Mussels and pointed to the devastation that the Eurasian milfoil causes.

While the province bans rototilling within 100 metres of the Rocky Mountain Ridged Mussel's territory a City of Vernon memo states the mussels have recently been found in areas where rototilling has been taking place for decades.

The discovery of the mussels in an area regularly rototilled brings into question the reasoning for the restrictions.

According to the Mayor's notice of motion, new research has discovered hundreds of mussels in multiple places in Okanagan Lake, including a proposed dog beach area adjacent to Kin Beach, as well as the area that had been rototilled for decades.

The staff report says the restrictions on rototilling have not only been detrimental to the water quality at Kin Beach but has had a "large financial impact" on the construction of a water intake facility near the beach.

Issues with the water quality at Kin Beach have been a cause of concern in recent years with geese getting much of the blame. In 2019, the invasive birds were partly responsible for high E.Coli levels that closed the beach to swimmers for a short period in the summer.

The fate of the geese was decided when Vernon council narrowly voted against a proposed cull in February.

Vernon council is set to vote on the mayor's notice of motion at its Nov. 23 meeting.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Ben Bulmer 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.

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