Patience floats my boat

Despite the allure of the sun and surf, stay off the lakes!

I’m a wanna-be boater. I want to be boating, but I don’t actually own a boat. Luckily, I have a few friends and family members who own boats and graciously allow me aboard their vessels.

After this week’s thunderstorms, when the sun comes out on days like today the desire to be out on the water is especially strong. And that craving is expected to stick around as Environment Canada has forecast mainly sunny skies today with a high of 22, Saturday could reach 25 and despite a chance of showers Sunday, the sun is expected to be in full force for the next six days – reaching 30 by Wednesday.

The temptation is even greater considering the lakes are virtually empty!

Obviously there’s a reason that the normally-packed waters aren’t seeing much action. And unless you live in Alberta, under a rock, and haven’t picked up the newspaper, clicked onto vernonmorningstar.com (or any other media site) or tuned into the radio in the past few weeks, you’ll know why.

The local pleas to stay off the lakes and protect shore lines are rampant. And it’s not just because of the damage even a small wake can cause, it’s due to the amount of debris in the lake that could prove dangerous to boats.

So despite the desire to hit the open water, if you are lucky enough to own a boat, be responsible and stay off the lakes for now – until residents can get their lives, homes and properties under control.

While we’re on the topic of boating, it may also be of interest that officials are looking at ways to mitigate power boat impacts on Wood and Kalamalka lakes.

As much as we may enjoy this sport/leisure activity, it is having an impact on our environment. And in particular, the above-noted lakes are a source of drinking water, therefore impacting all of us.

Population growth in the Okanagan has resulted in more power boating activity on local lakes. And, as Coldstream points out in a recent report: “power boating is an important economic, recreational and tourism activity in the Okanagan.”

The study predicts there are 208 boats distributed throughout Kal and Wood lakes on a busy day – a reasonable number considering 301 boats were observed on Aug. 20, 2016 (a peak boating day).

But in the interest of protecting the drinking water a boat impact study was commissioned to investigate the impacts.

The study includes recommendations on how partner municipalities can influence power boating activities to protect areas of concern in relation to the impact on source waters.

It recommends recreational use should:

1. Occur in locations that reduce both source water and environmental risk;

2. Key commuting corridors should be developed;

3. Density of use and where it occurs is important ;

4. Propeller, wake and wave safeguards are needed;

5. Spill safeguards and response plans should be developed.

 

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