Prevent invasive mussels from infesting Okanagan Lake

U.S. boat inspection trainer warns B.C. to be strict and proactive in preventing the spread of invasive mussels to the valley.

Boat inspection trainer D.D. Davis of Lake Mead

Halfway measures will get halfway results, warns D.D. Davis, boat inspection trainer in the Lake Mead National Recreation Area in Nevada—and once invasive quagga mussels are in your lake, they’re there forever.

So, she advocates taking severe measures upfront to prevent an infestation, in order to avoid billions of dollars in damage to everything aquatic, from the valley’s ecology to waterworks, bridges, boats and beaches.

Davis was one of the speakers at an Aquatic Invasive Species Workshop held in Kelowna Tuesday by the Invasive Species Council of B.C.

In her neck of the woods, and in many other western U.S. states, there are mandatory inspections of boats before they can leave or enter a different waterway, in an effort to prevent the spread of both zebra and quagga mussels, invasive species that have already forever altered the Great Lakes.

Davis told those attending the workshop a new fish hatchery on Lake Mead had to be shut down because it couldn’t continue to operate under the infestation of quagga mussels.

As well, the mussels have gotten into the penstocks and they clog pipes, screens, gates and other equipment at the Hoover, Davis and Parker Dams, she reported, costing millions a year.

A ‘Don’t Move a Mussel’ campaign is underway  there, while other states run similar campaigns to alert boaters and all other water users of the danger of transferring anything from a wakeboard or fishing rod to a boat or scuba gear from one body of water to another without a thorough cleaning and appropriate treatment.

Because the Lake Mead area is a half day drive for 30 million people, it’s a busy recreation area, and a popular place for those who enjoy water sports, Davis noted.

Compliance with regulations regarding movement of boats is expensive so boaters are not likely to voluntarily comply, she warned, and commercial marinas don’t want to annoy customers, so they can’t be relied upon to ensure compliance, she added.

De-contamination equipment can cost a quarter million dollars, and it will sit idle without enforcement, she said.

All weekend boaters are asked to Clean, Drain and Dry every surface of their boats and equipment, including bilges in order to stop aquatic hitchhikers.

The veligers, or microscopic larval stage can last for 27 days in standing water, so protocols to get rid of them are essential before leaving a contaminated water so they are not moved to infest new waters.

She advised B.C. to be proactive; to have a strategy ready, to focus on early detection and to learn from other jurisdictions where they already have the invasive mussels and have been trying to control them.

Consistency in messaging and ways of dealing with the problem would help water users to comply with recommendations regarding control and preventing their spread, she said.

Boat inspections where boaters are asked where their boat was last and how long it’s been out of the water are needed, she said.

She was impressed with the beginning this province has made to pass stringent legislation to prevent the movement of such invasive aliens, and to launch an information campaign to alert people to the dangers of their spread.

The good news is, Davis says she’s confident the valley can prevent contamination with the mussel with adequate effort.

This provincial government passed new legislation last December amending the Controlled Alien Species Regulation to prevent shipping or transport of a single mussel—alive or dead.

Offenders face a penalty of $100,000 or a year in prison, or both.

The Conservation Officer Service plans to set up checkpoints in areas such as Osoyoos and Golden to check boats this summer and try to prevent contaminated boats from entering B.C., said Gail Wallin, organizer of the conference and executive-director of the ISCBC.

They are working with marinas across the province to inform boaters about the mussels and will mount a multi-pronged campaign to spread the Clean, Drain and Dry message, but she says they’re now working on getting the attention of people like wakeboarders who can transport the veligers in the ballast of their boards; and snowbirds who took their boats to southern spots like Lake Mead during the winter months and are now bringing them home to put into Okanagan Lake.

Federal legislation is needed so that inspections could take place at the border, to ensure only decontaminated boats are permitted into Western Canada, but the difficulty is, they’re already in Eastern Canada, so regulations would have to be drafted that only applied to the West.



Just Posted

Okanagan can learn from Washington’s wine industry growth

Winery owner cites importance of industry collaboration

Okanagan wineries shine in global chardonnay competition

Recognition for Kalala and Liquidity wineries at 2018 Chardonnay du Monde competition

Kelowna’s South Perimeter Road project to go ahead

Project to extend Gordon Drive doesn’t get enough signatures to keep it from moving ahead

Fleeing driver leaves behind severely damaged car

West Kelowna crash occurred at Highway 97 South junction

Dozens of impaired Kelowna drivers ticketed on St. Patrick’s Day

Kelowna RCMP stopped many vehicles for impaired driving during a one day blitz

Rainy week ahead for Okanagan and Shuswap

Environment Canada is forecast rain for the next three days, starting Tuesday afternoon

Attempted gun smuggler across the Osoyoos border sentenced

Alex Louie, who prefers the name Senk’lip, was sentenced to the mandatory minimum

Pro-Trump protest sign with F-word is OK, court rules

Judges say Ontario man can protest publicly, even using vulgar language

VIDEO: Police officer looking for distracted drivers gets hit by truck

Road safety investigator clipped by trailer while patrolling busy intersection

YVR wants you to help name three new puppies

Say hello to the Vancouver Airport’s new assistance pups

Search and rescue help injured sledders off Owlhead

Volunteer searchers also locate two hikers near Little Shuswap Lake

Suspect who attacked autistic man in Ontario could be from B.C.’s south coast: police

29-year-old man was sent to hospital with serious injuries

Privacy watchdog to explore Facebook leak

Canadian expert says his analytics company helped Trump campaign capitalize on private Facebook info

How to keep local news visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections. You might see less news.

Most Read