The current Okanagan Dam in Penticton, built in the 1970s, has been called inadequate for the modern day demands of managing the Okanagan Lake water level. (File photo)

Water briefs: Mussel inspection program sidelines 5 B.C.-bound watercraft

Two of the boats were destined for Okanagan Lake

The province’s Invasive Mussel Defence Program has already intercepted five watercraft infested with mussels and headed for B.C. lakes, government officials told the Okanagan Basin Water Board.

As of July 3, the five watercraft fouled with the invasive mussels were coming from Ontario, with two destined for Okanagan Lake, two for the Lower Mainland and one for Vancouver Island.

The update was given to the water board at its July 5 meeting by Martina Beck, with the B.C. Ministry of Land, Water and Resource Stewardship, and Dave Webster, with the B.C. Conservation Officer Service.

This year, the province will operate eight inspection stations with 36 staff, a decreasing trend that began during the COVID pandemic.

OBWB executive director Anna Warwick Sears, in a submission to the committee consulting on the 2023-24 provincial budget priorities, called for mussel inspection funding to be restored to 2017 levels and be adjusted for inflation going forward.

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The OBWB has prepared an application to the Gas Tax Strategic Priorities Fund – Capacity Building Stream for $600,000 in funding to undertake studies 9 and 13 of a proposed 18-study plan for modernizing the Okanagan Lake Regulation System for lake level management.

The grant would cover all the costs for the studies on how climate change is affecting the lake regulation system and what infrastructure and operating plan changes could be made to enhance community benefits and reduce environmental impacts.

The project would run parallel to an assessment of impacts on the Indigenous Sylix culture, values and ways of life from current lake level policies.

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Executive director Anna Warwick Sears says Environment Canada is predicting a ‘Goldilocks’ weather pattern for the rest of this summer – not too hot, not too cold.

B.C. is expected to see more moderate summer temperatures than the rest of Canada.

But after a wet month of June which created higher than normal streamflows and lake level conditions, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration seasonal forecast for July to September is leaning toward traditional higher temperatures and lower precipitation levels.

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The agenda is now finalized for the 2022 Osoyoos Lake Water Science Forum, to be held Oct. 27-29 at the Sonora Centre in Osoyoos.

The forum is co-hosted by the Osoyoos Indian Band and the Okanagan Nation Alliance, with an emphasis on bridging Western and Indigenous approaches to water and watershed management.

For more information or to register to attend, check out the website www.obwb.ca/olwsf/.

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OBWB staff hosted a workshop June 22 at the Eldorado Hotel to discuss the benefits and impacts of boating and associated infrastructure in the Okanagan and come up with collaborative policy solutions.

Among the participants were staff from Okanagan local governments and regional districts, provincial government, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, local consulting companies, Living Lakes Canada, local dock and marina construction companies and the Kelowna Yacht Club.

OBWB staff will meet over the summer to develop an action plan for the water board’s consideration this fall.

READ MORE: Rivers receding but flood watch remains in effect for Shuswap Lake

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