‘Head to the Playzone!’ is a new campaign to educate Okanagan power boaters on when to go slow and keep wakes slow, and why it matters. The campaign follows the completion of a 2019 study that found wakes could disturb the lake bottom up to a depth of eight metres. (Stock photo)

‘Head to the Playzone!’ is a new campaign to educate Okanagan power boaters on when to go slow and keep wakes slow, and why it matters. The campaign follows the completion of a 2019 study that found wakes could disturb the lake bottom up to a depth of eight metres. (Stock photo)

Local governments call on Okanagan boaters to keep wakes low in shallow water

Conclusion of study finds power boats can disturb lake bottom in water up to 8 metres deep

Local governments in the Okanagan are calling on boaters to be mindful of their wakes in shallow water, for the sake of swimmers, drinking water, wildlife, the shoreline and more.

Power boaters on Kalamalka and Wood lakes are asked to go slow and keep wakes low as they head to the ‘Playzone’, where water is deeper than eight metres.

The call to action comes after the conclusion of a 2019 study, which identified that wakes and prop wash from powerboats could disturb the lake bottom up to a depth of eight metres, creating drinking water problems when contaminants in lake bottom sediment are kicked up by wakes, entering drinking water intakes. These contaminants can include bacteria, heavy metals, pesticide residues and hydrocarbons.

“The contaminants can enter lakes through stormwater run-off. They settle on the lake bottom and are naturally covered by new non-harmful sediment like sand and fine clay particles. However, when the sediment is disturbed and kicked up by boats, those harmful substances are back in transit in the water and can be drawn into water intakes.” said Tricia Brett, water quality manager with the Regional District of North Okanagan.

Water intakes in Kalamalka Lake provide drinking water for approximately 60,000 people and increased contaminants in the raw water can lead to higher water treatment costs, Brett said.

READ MORE: Design concepts released for Oyama Isthmus Park

READ MORE: Shuswap dragon boaters honour teammate’s cancer-fighting accomplishments

So, how deep should the water be before boats hit higher speeds and bigger wakes?

“Once you’re deeper than eight metres or approximately 25 feet, that’s your best play-zone!” said Heather Larratt, lead researcher of the 2019 study.

“Not only will you help keep drinking water clean, protect habitat and avoid unnecessary erosion of the rail trail, deeper is better for making great waves for sports like wake boarding or water skiing. It’s a win-win.” says Larratt.”

Other boating impacts in shallow water include the disturbance of fish habitats and shoreline bird nesting, as well as shoreline erosion that can affect the Okanagan Rail Trail.

“There are natural factors that cause erosion to the shorelines on the lakes. Storms can generate large waves, but the storms usually travel in a north-south direction and over time, storm waves have created rock and pebble beaches,” said Greg Buchholz, director of infrastructure services for the District of Lake Country.

“Wakes from boats create waves that hit the shore at a much higher frequency and come from many directions which impacts the shorelines in ways that the storms do not.”

Boating in shallow waters at high speeds also increases the risk of injury to swimmers and anyone recreating near the shoreline, officials said.

‘Head to the Playzone!’ is a new campaign effort by the RDNO, the District of Lake Country, the District of Coldstream and the Okanagan Collaborative Conservation Program, with support from the Okanagan Basin Water Board through it’s Water Quality and Conservation Grants.


Brendan Shykora
Reporter, Vernon Morning Star
Email me at Brendan.Shykora@vernonmorningstar.com
Follow us: Facebook | Twitter

Boating

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Paramedic Jason Manuel, dressed in PPE, inspects an ambulance at Station 341 on Nov. 30. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
Second wave, twice the anxiety; Okanagan paramedics reflect on pandemic from the front line

‘I don’t know who that (next) person is going to be, I don’t want it to be me or my family’: Paramedic

Kelowna City Hall. (Michael Rodriguez - Capital News)
Kelowna’s 2021 preliminary budget proposes 4.27% tax increase

Proposed budget calls for eight new RCMP officers

Good Samaritan Mountainview Village located at 1540 KLO Road in Kelowna. (Good Samaritan Society)
First long-term care resident dies from COVID-19 in Interior Health

Man in his 80s dies following virus outbreak at Mountainview Village

(File)
One death and 82 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

1,981 total cases, 609 are active and those individuals are on isolation

The former BC Tree Fruits office building at 1473 Water Street has been sold. (Contributed)
BC Tree Fruits downtown Kelowna office sold for $7.5M

Historic building sold for 44 per cent more than the $5.2-million asking price

Motorists wait to enter a Fraser Health COVID-19 testing facility, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, Nov. 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Another 694 diagnosed with COVID-19 in B.C. Thursday

Three more health care outbreaks, 12 deaths

Police responded to W.L. Seaton Secondary after reports of young man attempting to smash car windows in the student parking lot on Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2019. (Facebook)
Case of COVID-19 at North Okanagan high school

Member of W.L. Seaton Secondary exposure Nov. 26

The aftermath of the 3 a.m. fire in Keremeos. (Keremeos Fire Department)
Fire and explosion wakes Keremeos residents

A motorhome was consumed and a boat severely damaged after the 3 a.m. fire

A demonstrator wears representations of sea lice outside the Fisheries and Oceans Canada offices in downtown Vancouver Sept. 24, demanding more action on the Cohen Commission recommendations to protect wild Fraser River sockeye. (Quinn Bender photo)
First Nations renew call to revoke salmon farm licences

Leadership council implores use of precautionary principle in Discovery Islands

Ten-month-old Aidan Deschamps poses for a photo with his parents Amanda Sully and Adam Deschamps in this undated handout photo. Ten-month-old Aidan Deschamps was the first baby in Canada to be diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy through Ontario’s newborn screening program. The test was added to the program six days before he was born. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Children’s Hospital Eastern Ontario *MANDATORY CREDIT*
First newborn tested for spinal muscular atrophy in Canada hits new milestones

‘If Aidan had been born any earlier or anywhere else our story would be quite different’

Margaret Holm
HOLM: Better Bicycle Lanes

Margaret Holm writes about solutions to global warming

The newly opened Switzmalph Child Care Centre at Salmon Arm offers culturally enriched programs featuring the Secwépemc culture but is open to children of all heritages. (Martha Wickett - Salmon Arm Observer)
Video: Switzmalph Child Care Centre shares culture with Shuswap community

New daycare at Salmon Arm offers Secwépemc culturally enriched programs to children of all heritages

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Man walking in the winter downtown.
Dyer: The role of air tightness testing in energy efficiency

Kristy Dyer has a background in art and physics and consulted for Silicon Valley

Most Read