Board demands mussels action

OBWB has issued a seven-point position statement on the invasive species

With the province’s declaration of June as Invasive Species Action Month, the  Okanagan Basin Water Board has escalated its concern about zebra and quagga mussels.

OBWB has issued a seven-point position statement on the invasive species which could negatively  impact local lakes if they arrive in the valley.

“Awareness is great, but action is better,” said Doug Findlater, board chairperson.

“The water board is doing all it can within its mandate to prevent the spread of these species into the Okanagan. Ultimately, it is up to senior levels of government to bring in the appropriate laws and enforce them.”

OBWB research suggests the cost of a mussel invasion in the Okanagan could be at least $43 million each year in direct costs, lost revenue and property values, added maintenance of aquatic infrastructure, and irreparable ecological damage.

“In light of the cost of the milfoil program, the OBWB believes the province must accept the costly responsibilities for mitigation and control of this invasive species which we’ve been warning against since 2012, and not pass them to our local property taxpayers,” said Findlater.

Findlater added that the federal government is also being called on to complete the process of empowering Canada Border Services agents to stop and inspect all incoming watercraft.

“We’re hoping for good news soon, but the sooner the better.”

The position statement also repeats OBWB’s ongoing call for the province to establish permanent inspection stations.