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Letter: Human activity around Shuswap Lake cause of increasing algae blooms

Reader would like to see action taken before blooms toxic to residents
This photo from April 2020 in Shuswap Lake shows algae, the dark stretch, in the lake water. (Interior Health photo)

Re: Shuswap Lake algae bloom the results of ‘perfect storm’ of factors.

Having grown up and lived in the Salmon Arm area for most of my life (70-plus years) I read with interest the article regarding the current algae bloom in the Salmon Arm of Shuswap Lake.

Although Erin Viera of the Shuswap Water Council (SWC) has stated that algae is a natural part of Shuswap Lake’s aquatic system, one only has to look at the increasing number of occurrences and greater size of algae blooms over the past several decades to recognize that the increased human population and its activities around the lake are the cause of these algae blooms.

The SWC, Interior Health and the Ministry of Environment are attempting to reassure residents around the lake that these blooms are ‘natural’ and that they are continuing to monitor the situation.

Studies done in the past have identified poor farming practices, the City of Salmon Arm undersized/inadequate sewage treatment facility, commercial/houseboat grey water discharge, and failing or inadequately maintained private septic systems as contributing to the deterioration of quality of water in Shuswap Lake. However, there is no work being done to prohibit these activities, or mitigate their impact and contribution to the degradation of Shuswap Lake.

Unfortunately, it seems that putting tax dollars toward additional monitoring or studies is all that provincial ministries and agencies are willing to do. Thousands of individuals rely on Shuswap Lake for their domestic water source. Are these ministries and agencies waiting until there is an algae bloom in Shuswap Lake that is toxic to residents, or until Shuswap Lake, like the Hullcar aquifer, is no longer fit for human consumption, before taking any real action?

Alexandra Miller