The Okanagan Basin Water Board is raising awareness to stop an infestation of invasive zebra and quagga mussels from reaching the Okanagan. In addition to its “Don’t Move a Mussel” campaign, the OBWB is calling on the provincial and federal governments to join the fight against invasive species.
Research conducted for the OBWB shows that the arrival of invasive mussels could cost more than $43 million a year to manage. The mussels are known to create toxic algae blooms, ruin beaches with sharp shells, destroy boat motors, foul water intakes and outfalls, and put the ecology of the water at risk, including its fisheries. There is no proven method to eradicate mussels once they arrive.
“If the mussels get into the Okanagan waters, they have potential to do significant damage to our water systems,” warned Doug Findlater, OBWB’s board chair and mayor of West Kelowna. “It only takes one boat infested with mussels, launching into Okanagan waters, to cause serious harm to all the lakes. Especially with spring and boating season around the corner, the board is extremely concerned, knowing larger number of boats from outside the valley, other parts of Canada, and the U.S., will be heading into the waters.”
Anna Warwick Sears, OBWB’s executive director, added, “The federal government needs to pass the legislation that has been pending for several months now, making it possible for Canada Border Services Agency staff to stop boats from entering into Canada from the U.S. unless they’ve been inspected. We can’t truly protect the Okanagan without the right laws in place and participation from all levels of government.”