The Okanagan Basin Water Board (OBWB) welcomes the B.C. government’s announcement which will significantly improve protection of provincial waters from invasive zebra and quagga mussels.
OBWB Chair Tracy Gray. “We have been working to raise awareness regarding invasive mussels since 2012 with the launch of our Don’t Move A Mussel campaign. Much work has been done since then, working with various partners, including provincial staff and Okanagan MLAs, to get to where we are at today.
“A lot of the items that have been on our wish list were announced today,” Gray added. “As Premier Christie Clark noted, the province received our list of recommendations and has been working through it. We look forward to continuing to work with the province to close other potential loopholes that put our waters at risk, this includes tightening regulations.”
The announcement included:
- the introduction of Kilo, a German Shepherd trained as a multi-purpose dog which will include mussel detection. Kilo is completing training and it’s expected he will start working July 1 at high volume stations on a rotating basis;
- an increase in the number of inspection stations to 10 (up from 8). The two new stations, at Yahk and Midway, join ones already established at Golden, Valemount, and Dawson Creek, as well as mobile stations at Cranbrook, Invermere, Nelson, the Lower Mainland, and Penticton (covering also Midway, Osoyoos and Kaleden);
- nine of the stations will have expanded hours from 8-10 a day to “generally dusk to dawn,” with the Golden station – the busiest – going to 24 hours a day;
- this year’s stations will operate April 1 to Oct. 31, with the intention of expanding in future years to mid-March to mid-November;
- the season will start with 33 auxiliary conservation officers, same as in 2016, and the province is hiring and training an additional 35 to start this June which will bring the total to 68;
- $450,000 over three years to the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation (HCTF) to increase mussel monitoring in B.C. lakes; and
- additional equipment for the enhanced program.
Some $2 mill. in funding for this year’s program is being provided, again, through partnerships with BC Hydro, providing $1.25 mill., and Fortis BC, Columbia Power, and Columbia Basin Trust each committing $250,000. New this year, the province has committed $2.45 mill., primarily for increased staffing, $150,000 to HCTF (with a three-year funding commitment), and $170,000 for additional equipment.