All posts by SWOA

This organization, based in the Muskoka Lakes region of Ontario, has invited SWOA to join a national movement they have initiated called the Decibel Project – see The goal of this initiative is to lobby the federal government to strengthen the provisions of the Navigable Waters Protection Act with respect to noise and mufflers on all boats. Your Board has decided that this is not within our mandate but does support the concept and is providing the above link for your information.

The Shuswap Watershed Council (SWC) has released a short report entitled “Understanding Nutrients and Water Quality in the Shuswap River and Salmon River” that is available on the SWC website

As the title indicates, the results of three years of research have shown that the sources of excess phosphorus (P) are along the Shuswap River between Mara and Mable Lakes and along the Salmon River valley upstream of Shuswap Lake. The greatest nutrient loading is being contributed from small valley bottom tributaries that are impacted by housing, farming and commercial developments.

There is some additional research being conducted on Mara Lake to establish an historical baseline levels for the nutrients.

What’s next – obviously get on with mitigative efforts to reduce the nutrient loadings. The report indicates that development of wetlands, enhancement of riparian areas, new irrigation practices, different livestock practices and improved manure management are techniques that can be used. Results from implementation of these techniques will take many years (20 or more) to show significant results.

The SWC has place advertisements in local papers indicating that they have funds to start some projects. SWOA disagrees with this approach as the use of this money for mitigative work goes beyond the SWC mandate and is the “thin edge of the wedge” for the downloading of the cost of this work from Provincial agencies to local taxpayers. The Province has the legislative authority to write and enforce good practices. SWC funded through local tax dollars has no authority and the mitigation they are able to fund may have no effect. SWOA has voiced our opinion and we encourage you to let your representatives know your opinion.

The Shuswap Waterfront Owners Association has sent a letter to the Office of the Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy about the threat that aquatic invasive mussels pose to the lakes in the Shuswap watershed.  We are asking for more monitoring of water craft entering the lakes, rivers and waterways entering our province. Click here to view the letter sent by the President of Shuswap Waterfront Owners Association.

Here is a resource for all of us. This organization started in Ontario in 2013 and is co-ordinated by Watershed Canada and the Canadian Wildlife Federation. We encourage you to connect at and browse the online resources. If you want to do a self assessment of your shoreline go to 'Get Involved' and click on Shoreline Self Assessment.

Shuswap Drainage Snowpack and Lake Levels

As we have done in previous years SWOA will keep you informed about our best estimates for potential flooding as the snowpack melts. Reviewing Provincial reports the current estimate for the expected total volume of runoff in the basin is approximately 20% above normal. This does not mean that there will be flooding or extreme high water levels in the lakes this summer as spring weather is a critical factor determining the rate that snow melts. However, it does mean that we should be monitoring these levels closely over the remainder of the winter and spring as they are of concern. We will have to wait until we have the data at the end of March and particularly at the end of April to determine if further concern is warranted.

For a more detailed description of what data was used for this please continue to read more
The Province of BC releases a report on snowpack and water supply levels for the months of January to June each year.  The current report summarizes conditions at the end of February 2020. The following paragraph is the Executive Summary from that report:

“Mixed weather through February has led to on-going development of the province’s snowpack. The provincial average of snow measurements is 111% of normal, a slight increase from 110% of normal on February 1st, 2020. The snow basin index for the Fraser River is 117%, with high snow pack levels in it’s major tributaries. Seasonal flood risk is elevated in many regions, including the Upper Fraser West, Upper Fraser East, North Thompson, South Thompson, West Kootenay, Boundary, Central Coast and Skagit. Typically, 80% of the annual snow accumulation has occurred by March 1st, with another 48 weeks of snow accumulation still to come. While changes to the overall provincial seasonal flood risk are possible over the next few months (either increases or decreases), current trends in snowpack are likely to persist. Snow pack is one element of seasonal flood risk in BC, however snowpack alone does not predict whether flooding will occur; spring weather is a critical factor determining the rate that snow melts, while extreme rainfall can also cause spring flooding independent of snow conditions.”

For the Shuswap Drainage, the Snow water equivalent (SWE) at the recording stations ranged from 117% to 156% of normal, averaging 135%, down from 142% from the February report.  The overall This is mainly due to lower snow accumulations over the last half of February. The estimated Basin snow water index is 127% of normal, down a few percent from the previous estimate.

Lake Level Trend
In our last newsletter, we expressed some concern regarding the upward trend in lake levels that was occurring through the month of September. In fact, the heavy rain events in the latter half of September resulted in the lake level increasing to the maximum levels observed in the past and exceed those levels for a short time in early October. Since that time, with the onset of generally drier and cooler weather through October, the lake level has continued to decrease and now is on a trend towards average levels for this time of year. Unless there is a major change in the longer-term weather forecasts, the lake level should continue to slowly drop throughout the rest of the fall and winter.

SWOA will continue to monitor lake levels throughout the winter and, once snow pack data is available in late March and April, get back to our members with forecasts for the spring of 2020.

Have a safe fall and winter.

Revised Fisheries Act in Force
Effective August 28, 2019, provisions of the new Fisheries Act came into force. The new act includes new protections for fish and fish habitat in the form of standards, codes of practice and guidelines for projects near water. More details can be found on-line at

Summary of the changes

The revised Act restores or implements:

  • protection for all fish and fish habitats
  • prohibits the ‘harmful alteration, disruption or destruction of fish habitat’ (HADD)
  • prohibits activities, other than fishing, that cause ‘the death of fish’.
  • strengthens the role of Indigenous peoples in project reviews, monitoring and policy development
  • promotes restoration of degraded habitats
  • allows for better management of large and small projects impacting fish and fish habitat through a new permitting framework and codes of practice
  • provides improved protection of fish and/or fish habitats that are sensitive, highly productive, rare or unique
  • considers the cumulative effects of development activities on fish and fish habitat; and
  • establishes a new requirement to make information on project decisions public through an online registry

Effects of the changes for Waterfront Owners

The changes to the Fisheries Act will require you to contact Fisheries and Oceans Canada if
your project is taking place in or near water. You will be responsible for:

  • understanding the impacts your project will likely have on fish and fish habitat
  • taking measures to avoid and mitigate impacts to fish and fish habitat
  • requesting an authorization from the Minister and abiding by the conditions of your authorization when it is not possible to avoid and mitigate project impacts on fish and fish habitat
  • ensuring compliance with all statutory instruments, including federal and provincial legislations

Once you submit your project plans for review by DFO, they will:

  • identify the potential risks of the project to the conservation and protection of fish and fish habitat
  • work with you to ensure that impacts are managed in the best way possible

Frankly, these reviews will require waterfront owners to seek further assistance from environmental professionals when planning and implementing your project to ensure you are meeting the provisions of the Act.

Buoys Removed and Tagged

SWOA has been tracking the issues related to non-compliant buoys since the fall of 2017 when we first heard that Transport Canada, along with the CSRD, were tagging buoys along Shuswap Lake. Over the past two years, information reported in the Salmon Arm Observer documents that as many as 86 buoys have been removed in Shuswap and Mara Lakes, and this fall, a further 186 buoys have been tagged in the North Shuswap as being noncompliant with the Shipping Regulations and potentially subject to further action in the spring or summer of 2020.

Throughout this process, SWOA has been concerned with the tagging process as the notices have been left attached to the buoys enclosed in a Ziploc bag and zip tied to the buoys.  We have corresponded with Transport Canada on the topic, specifically as the notices were easily detached from the buoy by wave action, leaving only the zip tie attached. This is especially problematic as many waterfront owners will have closed their cabins for the year and if the notices are lost (as we expect will be the case), how will the owner of the buoy know that their buoy had been tagged unless they had heard via the beach grape vine.

Transport Canada have been clear on identifying the criteria that a buoy needs to meet to satisfy the Canada shipping regulations (a copy of the notice they have been using which includes the specifications to be met is posted on SWOA’s website).

As well, in correspondence recently received from Transport Canada they have stated:

" Our (Transport Canada’s) goal is not to pull buoys from the water, it is to ensure compliance with the regulations…. There is no stipulation that Transport Canada is to provide notice prior to pulling a non-compliant buoy, however in the interest of procedural fairness, we provide the notices. ”

The SWOA Board will continue to track the Transport Canada activities on Shuswap and Mara Lakes, advocate for our members  and keep our membership informed on this  and related issues. Currently we are following up with the CSRD and hope to have a further discussion with Transport Canada.

Lastly, we encourage you to talk to your waterfront neighbours or anyone that may be monitoring your cabin for the winter to determine if your buoy has been tagged. If so, we encourage you to get in contact with Transport Canada to start the process of getting a replacement buoy that will meet the regulations.

A copy of the tag notice (Compliance of Buoys under the Private Buoy Regulations) can be found by clicking here.

SWOA AGM was held August 14th at the Blind Bay Hall. We celebrated 10 years of advocacy for waterfront owners and reviewed our accomplishments for those who attended. We appreciate that through our efforts local, provincial and federal governments have recognized SWOA as a resource for issues concerning waterfront property owners in the Shuswap. Through your membership we have been able to support another very important volunteer service on our lake by donating to Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue Station 109 for a total of $4500 over the 10 years. In the past we have also made contributions to Legacy Search and Rescue who will attend our lake for recovery of remains from drowning. We are proud of the dedication of our Board members. Several members on SWOA Board have been involved for the entire 10 years. We welcome new Board members and assure you good support for settling in to this important volunteer position. Please use to express an interest in attending a Board meeting to see if you would like to join the decision makers. Linked to this is the 2018/19 SWOA President’s Report from Clyde Mitchell.

Back row, L to R:  Peter McCurrach, Sid Clarke, Bo Wilson, Bob Misseghers, Dave Cunliffe
Sitting:  John Irvine, Pat Robertson, Gord Robertson
Missing:   Paul Bennett, Clyde Mitchell