Archive 2014

The Shuswap Watershed Council/Fraser Basin Council has released a report it funded, “Agricultural Nutrient Management in the Shuswap Watershed for Maintaining and Improving Water Quality”, produced by Consulting Agrologist Ruth McDougall.  Water quality monitoring found elevated phosphorus in the Shuswap, Salmon and Eagle rivers during freshet. So much so that these rivers are contributing over 90% of the 'nutrients' in to the lake each year. It's likely that significant, short time frame runoff, has contributed to the algae blooms in the past.

The Shuswap River was found to contribute twice as much as the Salmon or Eagle rivers. Application of phosphorus fertilizer with the goal of maximizing crop yields has led to soils with a buildup of phosphorus well above natural levels and above crop requirements in many areas. Application of manure without reference to meeting any specific nutrient goals or to meet crop nitrogen requirements, has led to application of more phosphorus than crops can utilize.

The report recommends that the SWC develop and seek funding for a water quality program to determine the specific source of phosphorus in the rivers and tributaries, and if there is a contribution from agriculture, to identify the mechanisms by which it is moving from agricultural land into surface water. The full report can be viewed on our website.

At the beginning of this year, we were optimistic that we were making progress on the dock registration process with the province.  Our goal was, and still is, to have a simple and inexpensive system to bring docks into compliance.  There have been several government delays and at this time there is no change in the process, but at least that's not worse news. We will keep you informed as this develops. Before starting any application for docks or buoys, drop us an email and we'll give you the latest information (paid up members only).

Not that it's all bad, but it looks like more of the same as far as Area Directors for the Columbia Shuswap Regional District.Rural Golden Director Garry Habart was the only incumbent to be defeated in the November elections. Karen Cathcart will be taking his spot.  It was a different story in municipal elections with representation on the CSRD board, Nancy Cooper of Salmon Arm was the only incumbent mayor to be returned. Mark McKee doubled the votes over incumbent Revelstoke mayor (and chairman of the CSRD Board) David Raven.  Ron Oszust was elected in Golden and Terry Rysz in the District of Sicamous, where the incumbents didn’t seek re-election.

We don't know how this will all shake out but we do hope this board, that we will work with for the next 4 years, decides to keep their hands in their own pockets. Especially after they're just finishing their multi-million dollar new offices on the waterfront in Salmon Arm. (As an aside; they wouldn't have been able to build it had they followed the rules that we are all subject to...)

In April, we received a copy of a report titled "Nearshore Habitat Utilization by Spawning Lake Char and Rearing Rainbow Trout in Shuswap, Little Shuswap and Mara Lakes"  by M.L.Roseneau. This report, commissioned by the Fraser Basin Council, provided a description of the ecology of Rainbow trout and lake char based on information from other lake systems. The report expressed opinions that could be used to justify decisions that may significantly affect waterfront owners. We have now received our report from Triton Environmental Consultants regarding their review of that report. Triton was asked by SWOA to review the report to verify the opinions and recommendations it contained, and in particular to base the review on the empirical data from Shuswap Lake for these species. The Triton report reached some alternative interpretations, and recommendations for further research.

We have had the opportunity to sit down with the  Ministry of Forest, Lands and Natural Resource Operations (MoFLNRO) and are considering sharing expenses for studies that would be of use to waterfront owners. We will be in touch with the environmental science department at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops to see if we can encourage students to work on studies that would assist in filling gaps in the knowledge of Shuswap Lake fish ecology. These studies regard important issues related to both aquatic and riparian habitats around the lake as recommended in the Triton report. Our goal is to be sure that waterfront owners, as well as the various regulating agencies, have the most up-to-date and Shuswap specific information.

Here are those reports should you wish to view them yourself:

Nearshore Habitat Utilization by M.L.Roseneau
Tritons Review of the Roseneau Report

Legacy Water Search and Recovery Society is a western Canadian non-profit organization dedicated to locating and recovering drowning victims and to helping bring closure to their families.  Legacy is raising funds to purchase equipment and to that end, SWOA became a corporate sponsor in January.  SWOA has also offered assistance with logistics, accommodations and boats, should Legacy's services be required in the Shuswap.  More information at

Recently noticed on the DFO website was the following notification. What this seems to mean is that if you're not doing anything that's going to harm fish habitat and you're doing it on your own property, above the 348.7m high water mark, you now no longer need DFO approval for your project. Of course this doesn't mean that you don't need other approvals. Our man on the ground, Dave Cunliffe states:

This suggests that "DFO will no longer be involved in approving any of the listed activities and it will all be professional self-reliance.  With respect to waterfront retaining walls, the CSRD will still require a riparian DP but as long as it is above 348.7 and on the titled boundary there is also no provincial approval. "

So at a minumu you'll need

Development Permit from the CSRD
And within that development permit you'll likely require a positive report from a QEP (Qualified Environmental Professional) and you'll need to be sure that the QEP is an R.P.Bio (Registered Professional Biologist).. I know, acronyms acronyms.

Anyway this is good news that things are moving in a more reasonable direction.

From web page

November 18, 2014 – Update to guidance information
Updated content was released on the DFO website primarily to refine and improve the guidance and criteria for projects requiring a DFO review and those that do not.

Specific changes include:

  • Self-Assessment
    • Added additional detail to the types of waterbodies that do not require a DFO review
    • Made changes to the criteria for project activities that do not require a DFO review:
      • Bridges
      • Culverts
      • Docks
      • Boat Houses
      • Boat Launches/Ramps
      • Aquatic Vegetation Removal
      • Dredging (in the “Cottage, Boating and Recreation” category)
      • Shoreline/Bank Stabilization
      • Water Intakes (in the “Cottage, Boating and Recreation” category)
      • Groynes, Piers and Wharves (integrated with Breakwaters)
      • Aquaculture Operations
      • Dredging (in the “Harbours and Marine Commercial Activities” category)
      • Dams
      • Fishways/Ladders
      • Weirs
      • Habitat Restoration
      • Beaver Dam Removal
    • Added criteria for the following types of activities. If your project includes the specified criteria, it does not require a review by DFO.
      • Moorings: added under the category “Cottage, Boating and Recreation”.
      • Bank Stabilization: added under the broader category “Drainage, Flooding and Erosion Control, Stormwater and Wastewater Management”.
      • Water Intakes – Municipal and Industrial: added to the “Other Activities” category.
    • Removed the following types of activities:
      • Open Water Disposal: this has been combined with the “Dredging” activity.
      • Dewatering/Pumping: associated impacts can be avoided by following the measures to avoid harm and no additional self-assessment criteria are needed.
      • Blasting/Explosives: associated impacts can be avoided by following the measures to avoid harm and no additional self-assessment criteria are needed.
      • Water Extraction: these projects should be submitted to DFO for review.
  • Avoid, mitigate or offset harm to fish and fish habitat
    • A page was added to clarify the process for avoiding, mitigating or offsetting harm and where to find relevant guidance.

Here are the election results

Area C
Paul Demenok    714
Alan McClelland  459
Richard Norman   46

Area D
Rene Talbot    280
Kelly Stalker   184

Area E
Rhona Martin    229
Dan Letendre     70

Area F
Larry Morgan (elected by acclamation)

So, things pretty much stay the same.

Another month and no change to the semi-waterfront dock situation. It’s hard to believe that this issue isn’t resolved yet. We also haven’t seen any indication that more reasonable rules will be adopted for all dock authorizations.

I do want to recognize Forests and Lands for a very reasonable approach to a recent dock authorization given the constraints they operate under. I had the opportunity to review the file from some long term property owners in Sorrento who applied to authorize an existing dock that was under 24 m2. Some compliance problems were noted; specifically the incorrect spacing of floatation, lack of 1.5 m of depth at the shore side of the dock, and the prior use of paint some years ago. The approach taken was to authorize the dock with the condition that when replaced, the noncompliance items would be corrected. I applaud this application of common sense. It still took a year and while I still have problems with how reasonable the rules are, things seem to be trending in the right direction.

The Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations has announced that semi-waterfront docks in existence will be grandfathered for 10 years. During that period, no new docks associated with semi-waterfront properties will be approved and a committee will be set up to develop a new long-term policy to deal with this issue.

Legacy has been working with Kingfisher to purchase a boat to use for water search and recoveries.  At the SWOA AGM, President Scott Lebus told members the Society helped with several searches in the last two years but still needs a boat and side solar scanner to be able to effectively search on its own.  SWOA will be donating another $1,000 at the beginning of next year.