The Shuswap Watershed Council has released its 2019 water quality report. (Mike Simpson photo)

The Shuswap Watershed Council has released its 2019 water quality report. (Mike Simpson photo)

Algae bloom highlights nutrient concerns in Shuswap water quality report

Shuswap Watershed Council releases 2019 water quality report

Algae blooms are among the items addressed in a water quality report that, in general, speaks well of the watershed, but highlights areas of concern still to be addressed.

The Shuswap Watershed Council’s (SWC) water quality report for 2019 is now public. That it’s release should occur while an algae bloom is visible throughout a large portion of Shuswap Lake was not lost on the council.

“It’s not unusual for small algal blooms to occur in Shuswap Lake, and other lakes in the region,” says SWC lead and spokesperson Erin Vieira in a media release accompanying the report. “Algae are a natural part of a lake ecosystem. However, the blooms that we’re experiencing this year have persisted for longer than they typically do in Shuswap Lake.” The report explains algae blooms occur when the number of algae rapidly increase due to a change in conditions in the lake, such as an influx of nutrients or sunlight.

Nutrients phosphorous and nitrogen are vital to an aquatic ecosystem, the report reads, but excessive nutrients can lead to algae growth, a reduction in water clarity, odours and compromise the quality of drinking water.

The report addresses water quality in local lakes and rivers, and summarizes a recently completed three-year nutrient research project the SWC did with researchers at UBC Okanagan. It states the largest loads of nutrients entering Shuswap lake were coming from the Shuswap and Salmon rivers, and notes nutrient concentrations in Mara Lake have been trending upwards since the 1990s.

Read more: Algae bloom in Shuswap Lake deemed large but low risk

Read more: Shuswap Lake algae bloom being monitored, not considered harmful

Columbia Shuswap Regional District Electoral Area C director and SWC chair Paul Demenok said work is now being done to develop new ways to mitigate the amount of nutrients flowing into Shuswap and Mara Lakes so that, ultimately, the frequency and severity of blooms don’t increase.

“Our research with UBC-Okanagan has shown us where we need to focus our efforts,” said Demenok. “This year, we are working with four farms in the Salmon River valley and two stewardship organizations to support new nutrient management initiatives.”

Also covered within the report are the ongoing efforts to address Eurasian water milfoil in Shuswap Lake and keep out other invasives such as quagga and zebra mussels. The report notes the temperature,pH and calcium concentrations of Shuswap Lake make it well suited for mussels. The typical high influx of water vessels in the summertime add to the risk.

“Zebra and quagga mussels are two species of fresh-water mussels native to Europe and Asia with tremendous destructive potential due to their ability to attach to any object in the water: boats, water supply pipes, irrigation systems, dock pilings, hydro-electric facilities, and more,” reads the report.

The SWC adds that so far the Shuswap watershed is free of invasive mussels, and that the most important preventative measures are for boat owners to always clean, drain, and dry their vessel whenever they move it out of a lake or river.

The water quality report can be found at shuswapwater.ca. Print copies of the report will soon be available from all municipal, First Nations, and regional government offices and at library branches across the Shuswap.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Shuswap Lake

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Multiple people were injured at a Vernon home following an early-morning break-in Saturday, March 6, 2021. (Black Press file photo)
Multiple people left injured following break-and-enter in Vernon

Police believe the early-morning break-in was targeted and not a threat to the general public

Seniors in the Interior Health region can book their COVID-19 vaccinations starting Monday, March 8, 2021 at 7 a.m. (File photo)
Seniors in Interior Heath region can book COVID-19 shots starting Monday

Starting March 8 the vaccination call centre will be open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily

A Coldstream resident who found an owl struggling on her property in March 2021 is now spreading awareness of about the knock-on effects of rodent poisoning. (Kathy Renaud photo)
Coldstream owl ‘fighting for her life’ after ingesting rat poison

Coldstream resident warns against the use of rodenticide due to risk of secondary poisoning in raptors

Vernon residents can breathe a little easier now that a dust advisory has ended in the area. (Brendan Shykora - Morning Star)
Dust advisory lifted in Vernon

Changing meteorological conditions have improved regional air quality

The City of Vernon is looking for input into its Climate Action Plan. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
Vernon voices wanted on climate action plan

Community engagement sought on city plan

The James C Richardson Pipe Band marches in a Remembrance Day parade on Nov. 11, 2019 in Chilliwack. Wednesday, March 10 is International Bagpipe Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of March 7 to 13

International Bagpipe Day, Wash Your Nose Day and Kidney Day are all coming up this week

Kelowna General Hospital (File photo)
Second COVID-19 outbreak declared at Kelowna General Hospital

One patient and one staff member on Unit have tested positive for the virus.

Victoria man Brett Andersen is asking for people’s help to secure him one of eight free tickets to the moon. (Screenshot/@brettandersen Instagram)
Victoria man wants your help securing a free ticket to the moon

Japanese billionaire offering eight people a trip to the moon

The Conservation Officers Service is warning aquarium users after invasive and potentially destructive mussels were found in moss balls from a pet store. (BC Conservation Officers Service/Facebook)
Aquarium users in B.C. warned after invasive mussels found at pet store

Conservation officers were told the mussels were found in a moss ball from a Terrace pet store.

Hockey hall-of-fame legend Wayne Gretzky, right, watches the casket of his father, Walter Gretzky, as it is carried from the church during a funeral service in Brantford, Ont., Saturday, March 6, 2021. HE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky remembered as a man with a ‘heart of gold’ at funeral

The famous hockey father died Thursday at age 82 after battling Parkinson’s disease

Fire ripped through a mobile home on Boucherie Road in West Kelowna on March. 6. (Phil McLachlan - West Kelowna News)
‘My whole life just went up in smoke’; Fire consumes Okanagan mobile home

RCMP confirmed that there were no injuries due to the fire

Donald Alan Sweet was once an all star CFL kicker who played for the Montreal Alouettes and Montreal Concordes over a 13-year career. Photo courtesy of Mission RCMP.
Ex-B.C. teacher who was CFL kicker charged with assault, sexual crimes against former students

Donald Sweet taught in Mission School District for 10 years, investigators seek further witnesses

During a press event on March 6, Const. Alex Berube, media relations officer for the West Shore RCMP, addressed a deadly shooting that occurred in Metchosin the night before. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
VIDEO: One man shot dead on Vancouver Island in ‘targeted incident’

Highway 14 reopens following multi-hour closure for investigation

Most Read