The Waterfront Area

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 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.

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.

Has your buoy been tagged?
As we had reported earlier, approximately 600 mooring buoys were tagged by Transport Canada for noncompliance.  Just under 400 buoys were tagged on Mara Lake and just over 200 along the North Shuswap.  Because of the large number of buoys that will need to be replaced, the manufacturers have not been able to meet the demand and many replacement buoys are on back order.

SWOA  has been informed that should any of our members have a buoy that has been tagged and their new buoy has been back ordered, that they are advised to contact Transport Canada using the phone number on the tag, the number on the tag, and the name of the dealer who is holding the back order and the expected delivery date.  Transport Canada is aware of the backlog of buoys and will consider this when they start their enforcement in late September and October.

Well, a pleasant summer has quickly turned into fall and winter cannot be far behind. Activity on the lake has slowed and lake levels continue to drop towards the winter low – or do they?
During the spring freshet Shuswap Lake levels peaked at one of the lowest levels recorded in the past and over the summer continued to drop.  But, hardly noticed was a slowing in the rate of decrease in the lake level so that by late August lake levels were at average levels for this time of year.  Now, with all the rain in the area during September, levels have increased to well above average for this time of year.  The increase in lake levels at this time of year is not without precedent although these increases are more common in October and at this point are not a reason for concern for next spring.  SWOA will follow the changes over the remainder of the season and will let you know if this situation continues throughout the winter.
Visit Shuswap Lake Watch website for lake level information.

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.