New study raises concerns about water quality issues and the growing proliferation of recreational boating on Kalamalka and Wood lakes. -Image Credit: Contributed

Water quality at risk

Study: Growing powerboat pressure on Kalamalka Lake raises environmental concerns

A boat impact study on Kalamalka and Wood lakes’ water quality raises environmental concerns but stops short of recommending boating access limitations.

The impact study, prepared by Ecoscape Environmental Consultants, suggests options to mitigate negative powerboat impacts such as warning signage and creating no-wake zones. It also suggests designated commuter corridors to reduce water quality risks to drinking water intakes and sediment dispersal harm to shallow or littoral zones of less than six metres depth.

The study found that some areas around Kalamalka Lake, with the largest domestic intake capacities, may be exceeding boating capacity during the high-use summer season, particularly on weekends.

The key areas of concern for powerboat overcrowding occur in the shallower north and south ends of Kalamalka Lake and along the north section of Wood Lake near the Oyama Canal.

In these sensitive areas, the study found, sediment bacterial, hydrocarbon and metal contaminants that exceed water quality guidelines were detected.

The contaminants were sourced both to being released during sediment disruption and from chemical spills, most frequently occurring during boat refueling, cleaning or disposal of wastes.

The report was discussed in its draft stage at a regional water stewardship committee meeting last month and comes before Lake Country councillors for further discussion at Tuesday’s council meeting.

The study was done for the Okanagan Collaborative Conservation Program with the support of Lake Country, Coldstream, Central and North Okanagan regional districts, Okanagan Basin Water Board, and the Okanagan and Similkameen Invasive Species Society.

Lake Country district planner Paul Dupuis has recommended that council direct staff to work on an implementation committee to devise strategies to create a “balanced and meaningful approach to source water protection while understanding that recreation marine activity is an important water use within the region.”