Government

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
(https://www.fraserbasin.bc.ca/_Library/TR_SWC/SWC_Nutrients_WaterQuality_Feb_5_2020_WEB.pdf).

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.

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.

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 http://www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/campaign-campagne/fisheries-act-loi-sur-les-peches/protection-eng.html.

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.

Earlier this year SWOA wrote to the Provincial Government urging them to strengthen their mussel defense program, especially over-night at the various watercraft monitoring stations leading into our watershed.

On September 9, we received the following correspondence:

“Reference:  347016

September 9, 2019
 
A. Clyde Mitchell, President
Shuswap Waterfront Owners Association
 
Dear A. Clyde Mitchell:
 
Thank you for your letter of July 16, 2019, supporting the Invasive Mussel Defence Program.
 
I appreciate your support for the work the ministry is undertaking to protect our water resources from invasive zebra and quagga mussels. I also appreciate the work of the Shuswap Waterfront Owners Association to keep your members informed about the BC Government’s actions and how they can support this work.
 
The Province is focused on implementing an effective, multi-pronged, risk-based approach when it comes to preventing the spread of invasive mussels. The Invasive Mussel Defence Program has been operating since 2015 and its operations undergo thorough annual reviews, benefitting from ongoing feedback from staff, partners and the public, as well as lessons learned from other jurisdictions across western Canada and the United States. These operational reviews contribute to ongoing and yearly improvements of program operations. For example, in 2018 the program added a second canine officer to help detect possible invasive mussels on high-risk vessels.
 
As you may know, one of the more recent examples of our continued commitment to adapt operations is our 2019 pilot program that will be monitoring overnight watercraft traffic volume along BC’s Highway 3 corridor on long weekends this summer. Understanding watercraft traffic patterns is a key consideration to inform any adjustments to inspection station hours. BC needs to continue to take a science-based, risk-managed approach to inform the continuous improvement of our Invasive Mussel Defence Program.
 
Through the Interprovincial Territorial Agreement for Coordinated Regional Defence Against Invasive Species, BC collaborates with Alberta, Yukon, Saskatchewan and Manitoba on enhanced coordination for preventing and managing aquatic invasive species; the initial emphasis is on zebra and quagga mussels. A central component of this work is coordination of the watercraft inspection programs to enhance the perimeter defence approach for western provinces. This perimeter defence approach extends to our American neighbours through other collaboration mechanisms, which are focused on coordinated watercraft inspection programs, as well as outreach and education.
 
Another critical component of the Invasive Mussel Defence Program is outreach and education to inform positive change in the boating community. BC and many other jurisdictions in western North America have adopted the “Clean, Drain, Dry” message, which provides a positive message to promote a change in behaviour amongst boaters to reduce the risk of invasive mussels and other aquatic invasive species.
 
The Province has stepped up our collective efforts to mitigate the risks associated with zebra and quagga mussels. We have adopted a unique delivery model that formally links our conservation science and enforcement teams. The Invasive Mussel Defence Program is a priority initiative that will continue to take a proactive, adaptive, science-based approach that works with partners from across BC to ensure its operations are effective. 
 
Thank you again for taking the time to write.
 
Sincerely,
 
George Heyman
Minister”

SWOA will continue to lobby the government for the continuation of this important work well into the future.

We also note that, at the recent Shuswap Watershed Council, the SWC were given additional information on the increase of the K-9 units (from 1 to 2) used in the mussel defense program. Additionally, it was reported to the SWC that there is coordination between the Ministry of Environment and the CBSA both at the points of entry from the US and in monitoring of float equipped aircraft entering BC from infected areas in the USA.

In addition to check points on our highways the Invasive Mussel Defence Program includes early detection monitoring of lakes in BC. Columbia-Shuswap Invasive Species Society does the sampling in our region.

The Province has been conducting early detection lake monitoring for zebra and quagga mussels since 2011. British Columbia is one of the many jurisdictions across North America conducting early detection monitoring and active prevention efforts for invasive mussels.

In 2018, over 800 samples were collected from lakes throughout B.C. and all samples tested negative for the presence of invasive mussels (see map here). In 2018, samples were collected by ENV and FLNRO regional staff, BC Hydro, the Boundary Invasive Species Society (BISS), Central Kootenay Invasive Species Society (CKISS), Columbia-Shuswap Invasive Species Society (CSISS), Christina Lake Stewardship Society (CLSS), East Kootenay Invasive Species Society (EKISS), Okanagan and Similkameen Invasive Species Society (OASISS), Northwest Invasive Plant Council (NWIPC), Sea to Sky Invasive Species Council (SSISC), Lillooet Regional Invasive Species Society (LRISS), Upper Fraser Conservation Alliance, Fraser Valley Invasive Species Society, Invasive Species Council of BC, and the Skeena Fisheries Commission.

This sampling is also underway in 2019 throughout the CSRD.  If you see people near boat launches with cone shaped nets collecting samples towing the nets through the water, this is the sampling work that is underway.

An excellent video on Mussel Threat - Protecting BC's Freshwater can be found here.

Provincial Early Detection Rapid Response (EDRR) Plan can be found here.

Aquatic Invasive Species Network website can be found here.

Zebra and quagga mussel facts can be found here.

At its July 18, 2019 meeting the CSRD Board passed the revised Bylaw 900-25 at third reading and now will forward the revised bylaw to the Ministry of Transportation, Highways and Infrastructure for approval before the revised bylaw can be brought into effect, expected sometime this fall.

This issue has been under review for more than a year. As reported at our AGM last August, the CSRD enquired if SWOA would be interested in consulting with them on possible changes to Bylaw 900. SWOA agreed to provide input to any changes and in late June 2018 made a presentation to the CSRD Planning team. In spite of our input, the draft modifications to the bylaw only reflected minor revisions to the Bylaw. The CSRD published the proposed changes and sought input from the public, including SWOA as a “referral” agency. Thank you to all our members who provided input to the CSRD on this important issue. In late June of this year the CSRD held a public hearing on the proposed changes to the bylaw including a presentation on the findings of the public survey. SWOA attended the hearing and presented its views once again. A number of our members also presented their views to the hearing board.

Following the CSRD public hearing and undertaking some additional research, CSRD staff revised their recommendation for the top area of a dock bylaw from 30 m2 to 32 m2. The Board, in their deliberation on the recommendation, further revised this upwards to 33.45 m2 (for a total allowable length and width of 36 feet by 10 feet) without further Board approval.

SWOA believes that the changes to the Bylaw resulted from the contributions of all our members through this extended process and we thank you for your input and support.

Important notice to members.
About 600 buoys in the Celista area were tagged in early June by Transport Canada and the CSRD.  If you arrive at your cabin later this summer there may be a zip lock bag attached with a notice indicating that your buoy is non-compliant with Transport Canada Regulations.  Click here to view a copy of the notice.

If you have a zip lock bag still attached or just a black zap strap, your buoy has been tagged for non-compliance.  Click here to view a photo of a tag/bag that may have  been destroyed by a storm or leak.

SWOA strongly suggest you contact Transport Canada (604-775-8867 or NPPPAC-PPNPAC@tc.gc.ca) and bring your buoy into compliance to prevent removal this fall.

Click here for full Transport Canada Private Buoy Regulations