EDITORIAL: Victoria must take action on mussels

B.C. must move ahead with zebra and quagga mussel monitoring along its boundary with Alberta.

One has to wonder why the provincial government isn’t getting the message?

Other jurisdictions across Western Canada and in the U.S. are taking direct action against quagga and zebra mussels, and yet officials in Victoria have done nothing substantial to try and prevent the spread of the invasive species in to this province and specifically Okanagan lakes.

“If we don’t put money into trying to stop them, it will almost be impossible once they are entrenched,” said James Baker, Lake Country mayor.

And when one looks at the environmental, economic and social damage the mussels have caused in Manitoba and states across the U.S., everyone across B.C. should be concerned about the situation.

They clog water intake pipes, pumps and boat motors and they deplete food sources for fish. Toxins from the mussels could contaminate drinking water, creating challenges for utilities already struggling to keep up with water quality standards.

Tourists and residents could be faced with razor-sharp shells covering the valley’s picture-postcard beaches.

And all it could take for this to become reality is for one unsuspecting boater to bring a vessel into the Okanagan that’s contaminated with quagga and zebra mussels. There was already one close call last year.

The federal government has agreed to monitoring on the U.S. border but B.C. must move ahead with a similar program along its boundary with Alberta.

Victoria bureaucrats will claim they can’t afford $530,000 annually for monitoring because of an uncertain economy, but can the Okanagan afford the risk on its doorstep?



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