UPDATED: Raw sewage, algae reported in Okanagan Lake

The Okanagan Indian Band is asking all residents and visitors to refrain from entering into the north arm of Okanagan Lake until further notice

UPDATED: The previous report of raw sewage into Okanagan Lake has been assessed and the results indicate a combination of high organic material (sewage output), grass, leaves and burlap, sand and dead animals, and with the added high temperatures, an algae bloom.

The Okanagan Indian Band will continue to monitor the area and notes the algae bloom occurrence will be a common sight over the next week.

“At this time, there is not an odour and as the algae bloom becomes oxygenated, a distinct sulphur odour will be a natural release,” states the band.

A number of factors increase the presence of blue/green algae: Higher than normal temperatures, changing water levels and the increase of nutrients making their way into the watershed from fertilizers and sewage runoff.

Residents are urged not to go into the water or have contact with the water, do not drink the water and do not eat fish caught where there is a blue/green algae bloom.

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A raw sewage alert has been issued for the north end of Okanagan Lake.

The Okanagan Indian Band’s emergency operations centre has received a report of a raw sewage discharge and the incident has been reported to the Ministry of Environment for investigation.

“The EOC is asking all residents and visitors to refrain from entering into the north arm of Okanagan Lake until further notice and to not consume surface waters drawn from Okanagan Lake,” states the release.

A specific location for the discharge has now been provided at this point.

The release goes on to say that raw sewage could contain E.coli, giardia, cryptosporidium, heptatis A, cholera and other diseases.

“Open cuts and wounds can become severely infected by contaminated water. Early symptoms from exposure to sewage water pollutins may include upset stomach, intestinal problems, headaches and other flu-like symptoms. For open wounds, watch for redness, swelling and soreness. You should seek medical attention if you suspect illness or infections.”

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