Okanagan Basin Water Board officials are concerned that an early start to the milfoil growing season could create challenges in local lakes.

Okanagan Basin Water Board officials are concerned that an early start to the milfoil growing season could create challenges in local lakes.

Milfoil blooms early

Eurasian milfoil is already being reported in Okanagan lakes.

An early start to spring has given a jump-start to an invasive species.

Eurasian milfoil is already being reported in Okanagan lakes.

“I received our first call last week about the weeds and then on Monday, I had a couple calls saying the weed had broken the surface of the lake and is starting to form mats,” said James Littley, Okanagan Basin Water Board operations manager.

“It is looking like a good year for milfoil, and that’s bad for the rest of us.”

It’s believed early snow melt and warm temperatures have created ideal conditions for milfoil to grow.

Milfoil arrived in Okanagan lakes in the early 1970s and OBWB employs three operators who spend thousands of hours trying to control the weed.

Besides turning off tourists, milfoil robs oxygen from the water, increases water temperature, slows the flow at the mouths of rivers, and increases polluting nutrients in the water.  It has also been linked to fish kills and loss of biodiversity.

In the winter, milfoil operators rototill (uproot) the weed while it’s dormant. The roots are then left to freeze and die. In the summer, the weed is harvested six feet below the surface collected and turned into fertilizer.

For more information, go to www.obwb.ca/milfoil or www.okwaterwise.ca/nature.