An algal bloom gave Shuswap Lake near Salmon Arm a greenish hue over the summer of 2020. (Shuswap Watershed Council photo)

An algal bloom gave Shuswap Lake near Salmon Arm a greenish hue over the summer of 2020. (Shuswap Watershed Council photo)

Shuswap Lake being monitored for algal blooms

Regional algal bloom response plan complements province’s Algae Watch program

Several organizations will be on the lookout for algal blooms on Shuswap Lake.

A regional algal bloom response plan for the lake, facilitated by the Shuswap Watershed Council (SWC), centres around a collaborative effort towards water-quality monitoring. Local First Nations, the Columbia Shuswap Invasive Species Society, First Nations Health Authority, the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change and BC Parks are participants in this endeavour.

Depending on where and when an algae bloom may occur, any of these organizations could collect water quality samples to help authorities understand the potential public health risk or ecological implications, says the SWC in a recent media release.

“Shuswap Lake is the primary source of drinking water for the City of Salmon Arm, and many residents in the surrounding area. It goes without saying that we have to protect the health of the lake,” comments Rob Niewenhuizen, the city’s director of engineering and public works. “The city has shared resources and assisted in collecting water samples and performing visual monitoring of the lake during past algae bloom events.”

Read more: Shuswap algal bloom prompts provincial water monitoring initiative

Read more: Wood Lake unsafe for drinking, swimming due to large algae bloom: IH

Of particular importance, says the SWC, is the risk that cyanobacteria, also known as blue-green algae, can pose to public health. These types of algae can produce microcystin toxin, which may be harmful to people, pets and livestock. Interior Health has indicated it is committed to working with partners to post the appropriate notifications at affected sites, if necessary.

The algal response plan complements the environment ministry’s new website, Algae Watch, an educational resource for the public to become more informed about algae blooms, and to submit observations of algae blooms throughout the province.

For more information, contact Erin Vieira or Mike Simpson c/o the Fraser Basin Council in Kamloops, at 250-314-9660 or visit www.shuswapwater.ca.

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