Mussel threat worries officials

Senior governments are being told to flex some muscles when it comes to mussels.

The Okanagan Basin Water Board is demanding that the provincial and federal government initiate efforts to prevent the spread of the invasive zebra and quagga mussels.

“We need the federal and provincial governments to be serious about the issue,” said Juliette Cunningham, a director, adding that OBWB and local communities can only do so much to prevent the arrival of the mussels which are from Europe originally and have spread across North America.

These mussels clog water intake pipes, pumps and boat motors. They also deplete food sources for fish and produce toxins that kill fish and birds and contaminate drinking water.

It’s believed it could cost $43 million a year to manage the mussels if they arrive in the valley.

“It only takes one boat infested with the mussels, launching in our waters, to cause serious harm to our lakes,” said Anna Warwick Sears, OBWB executive director.

Of concern to OBWB is a report that indicates that 19 per cent of the infected boats stopped in Idaho in the last five years were on their way to B.C. and Alberta. There was a close call with one of the infected boats nearly ending up in Shuswap Lake last summer.


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