A milfoil harvester working on Okanagan Lake.—Image credit: Okanagan Basin Water Board

Weather puts Okanagan milfoil control program behind schedule

Okanagan Basin Water Board says its bracing for more milfoil in local lakes this summer.

After a cold winter and wet spring in the Okanagan, the Okanagan Basin Water Board says it is getting ready for a significant bloom of invasive milfoil in valley lakes this summer.

“In a normal year, spring runoff will bring extra nutrients into our lakes, fertilizing the milfoil just as it’s starting to grow,” said James Littley, OBWB operations and grants manager. “This year, with unprecedented floods and a predicted hot summer, we’re expecting significant growth with weather that has created ideal conditions for the milfoil.”

But floods and hot weather are not the only reason for the expected increase in milfoil growth.

According to the Littley, this past winter frozen lakes prevented the milfoil rototillers from getting in and uprooting the weed in several locations. Derooting is considered the most effective control method because the weeds are dormant and won’t re-root.

“The lakes just stayed frozen longer than we’ve seen in several years, meaning we couldn’t go in and remove the plants,” said Littley.

Lake levels and debris could also affect the milfoil control program this year. As the lake levels drop, weeds that were submerged may suddenly become very visible, forming dense mats on the surface of the water. Boaters are asked to stay away from these mats, as breaking off plant fragments can spread the weeds to new locations, and create a mess on the shoreline.

Debris from the flooding will also pose a risk to milfoil control machines this summer. The front of the machine has teeth that cut the weeds and place them onto a conveyor belt for collection. Floating logs and other debris can do significant damage to the machines, increasing the time needed for maintenance and repairs.

“So far, we haven’t been able to get out on the water to assess the conditions since we are respecting the no-boating, no-wake calls from local governments,” said Littley. “Usually we’d start our summer operations by July 1st, and we’d have a pretty good idea of the growth before that. This year, we think we will see high volumes, but we can’t be sure until the lake levels drop and we can get a boat in the water.”

With this year’s frozen lakes putting normal annual milfoil control efforts behind schedule in many areas, and the expected boom in weed growth, it will likely mean that the program also cannot respond to additional calls for treatment.

“Our priority is public beaches where the majority of people are accessing the water,” added Littley. “Shorelines in front of private property will not be considered for treatment this year until public beaches have been treated.

The OBWB has been treating invasive milfoil in the Okanagan for more than 40 years, by de-rooting the plant in the winter and cutting the top two meters of the plant in the summer. The program is subject to strict environmental work windows and is limited by the number of access points and weed transfer sites along the shoreline for the very heavy equipment used.

“The overall message is that we ask folks to be patient if they see weeds in the water,” said the board in a release issued Friday. “We’ve added extra equipment and personnel in the last year, and are making long-term investments in the program to keep our waters as weed-free as possible.”

For more information on the milfoil control program please visit www.OBWB.ca/milfoil.

Just Posted

Uber official says public needs to push for ridesharing in B.C.

Mike van Hemmen tells Kelowna Chamber of commerce ridesharing would be ‘win-win-win’

Three-vehicle accident on Highway 33

Crews are on the scene of the multi vehicle collision about 10 kms east of Kelowna

Cram the Cruiser back in Lake Country

The annual fundraiser will be held Dec. 2 at the Save On

Cougar spotted near Okanagan elementary school

Cougar sighting near Peter Greer Elementary in Lake Country

Three car accident on Enterprise

Emergency crews in Kelowna have responded to Enterprise and Cooper for a three car accident

Okanagan ski hills open for the season

Both Big White and Silverstar Resort open for the 2017-18 season Thursday

An adopted cat is the best 10 pounds you’ll gain this season

BC SPCA encouraging families to add a forever feline friend during adoption event Nov. 24 to Dec. 3

Up close and personal roots performance on Vernon stage

The Vernon and District Performing Arts Centre Society presents William Prince Nov. 29-30

B.C. co-ops relieved with Ottawa’s housing strategy

Federal government to have a new co-operative housing funding model in place by 2020

Letter to the editor: Missing woman’s parents appreciate search effort

To take part in the banner drop, poster distribution and the drone… Continue reading

B.C. NDP referendum plan sparks legislature battle

David Eby says public will decide on proportional referendum

Hammy has been freed of his threads, a purple antler remains

The iconic Prince Rupert buck with a piece of hammock attached to his antlers was caught by COs

Inmate suing Okanagan Correctional over alleged assault

Inmate claims an officer grabbed him by the throat and threw him onto the bed

Rockets visit Giants, home to Tigers Saturday

Kelowna looks to rebound from consecutive road losses to Vancouver and Spokane

Most Read