The Provincial Government is pouring in $1.3 million into a preventative program towards early detection and rapid response against invasive and potentially costly mussels. The funding announcement was made Tuesday morning on the edge of Okanagan Lake in Kelowna.
Matthias Herborg with the Ministry of Environment explained step by step to an interested crowd how to clean, drain, and dry your boat after an afternoon out on the water.
It’s important to ensure any debris, weeds, and excess mud is cleaned off your boat before entering into B.C.’s fresh water lakes and rivers, continued Herbog.
“Picking this stuff up, getting the water out, spraying dirt off the boat before you go to another lake, that’s something we want the public to do. It will stop so many invasive aquatic species,” said Herborg.
The invasive mussels have the ability to attach to hard surfaces and also have a tendency to leave behind microscopic larvae, rendering the mussels very dangerous if exposed to fresh water ecosystems.
Aside from clogging water intake pipes, zebra and quagga mussels can lead to increased maintenance costs for hydroelectricity and domestic water, as well as industrial, agricultural, and recreational facilities.
If we do not get a handle on this situation now, the province could end up spending billions on the repercussions of these invasive creatures, explained Polak.
“Anywhere that there’s an intake pipe of freshwater would be vulnerable to an infestation or a blockage and tremendous costs to deal with that,” added Polak.
Aside from increasing education and outreach activities, the $1.3 million dollar in funding will go toward three mobile decontamination units, six trained auxiliary conservation officers, highway signage throughout the province, and expanded monitoring and reporting of polluters.
For example, through this program, boats will coming in from the U.S. and Alberta will be inspected and decontaminated where necessary.
For the general public, fines might be in order, but Polak emphasized that financial discrepancies will be a last resort.
“We want people to report if they have a concern with their boat; we’re not looking to come out and ticket them,” said Polak. “If they think they have an infestation in their boat, we want to come out and help them and show them how to [clean their boats.] We will and can resort to fines and other enforcement opportunities if we find someone who’s just not willing to comply and has no interest in receiving our help.”