The Okanagan Basin Water Board is sounding the alarm about the impact invasive mussels would have on the local lake ecosystems.
A recent provincial report said that a zebra and/or quagga mussel infestation would cost B.C. between $64 million and $129 million annually. However, the board does not believe that the report takes all factors into account, as they state in a recent letter to B.C. Minister of Water, Land, and Resource Stewardship Nathan Cullen.
“We appreciate the level of detail given by your report, looking at the potential financial impacts of invasive mussels on hydro facilities, irrigation infrastructure, municipal water treatment facilities, domestic water intakes, losses in property values and property taxes, tourism, boats and marinas. However, the report does not, and probably could not calculate the terrible impacts these mussels would cause to our natural systems.”
The letter goes on to say that the board has been anticipating bad news in the report for several years, yet they still find the results “deeply troubling.”
“An economic study cannot quantify the impacts to our children and grandchildren who would grow up missing the experience of playing along the beaches and swimming in the lakes free from piles of razor-sharp mussel shells. It cannot quantify the harm the mussels will cause to the populations of sockeye and Chinook salmon, that are being restored back from the brink of extinction by the efforts of the Okanagan Nation Alliance and their partners. It cannot quantify the losses to the health and environmental quality of our beautiful lake system – also a critical source of drinking water to a growing population.”
The board brought up possible worst-case scenarios, where lakes would have to be quarantined, and every boat would have to be inspected before launching in Okanagan waters.
They started the campaign “Don’t Move a Mussel” in 2012, raising awareness to clean, drain and dry your boat before moving it into another body of water. The province acted in 2015 in beginning their mussel inspection program, which has intercepted many mussel-ridden crafts ever since.