A Lake Country diver says he first took to the water to find treasures.
Instead, he’s found more trash than keepsakes.
Ajay Weintz has been scuba diving for a year. He said he’s heard many stories of divers finding treasures deep underwater, so he decided to jump in and see what he could find in Okanagan Lake.
“The first day I went into the water, my perspective changed very quickly,” he said.
“My mindset changed from treasure to trash. Since the first day I started diving, I’ve also started cleaning up lakes.”
Weintz said he never fails to resurface with at least ten to 15 pounds of garbage whenever he goes diving with him.
He’s gone diving — and cleaning — in Okanagan, Wood, and Kalamalka lakes, as well as Adams and Johnson lakes in the Shuswap area.
“Okanagan Lake, by far, is the worst place I’ve ever been. It’s the best diving I’ve done, but it’s the worst trash area because of all the party boats,” he said.
He said he usually finds the worst parts just diving off at the Okanagan Centre in Lake Country and the Kelowna end of the W. R. Bennett bridge at City Park.
“Next to the old pillars of the old bridge that are still underwater, there is probably a pile of about 300 or 400 pounds of trash just sitting there.”
“We’ve found record players, work boots, a bicycle, a construction ladder, thousands of beer bottles and pop cans and anything you can think of,” he said.
Despite the trash, Weintz said he has found one treasure at least: an Apple Watch while he was diving in Maui, Hawaii. He said for three years, he tried to find the watch’s owners and return it to them to no avail. One day, he found the owner had remotely wiped the watch.
“Now I wear it on my wrist as a little prize,” he said.
Weintz says he goes out to Okanagan Lake, as it’s the closest, two to three times a month. He wants to get out more, but he needs diving partners who can help him clean up too.
“I want to do it at least twice a week, and do videos too, so we can spread awareness on what’s happening in our lake,” he said.
“I have some people I dive with, but our schedules don’t always work.”
As the temperatures warm up and more people go out to the lake, Weintz has a simple ask.
“If you’re going out on a party boat or just going boating in general, pack out what you pack in. Don’t throw your empty cans into the lake. Don’t throw stuff overboard, even if it’s stuff that you think is decomposable.
“People think pop cans will just rust away and disappear, but it doesn’t happen like that. Whatever you bring out on the lake with you, please bring it back with you and put it in the trash.”