Quamichan Lake has been a popular spot for boating but an increasing number of algae blooms in recent years has highlighted problems with the water’s quality.
Levels of phosphorus, which cause the blooms, are well above provincial standards
“We’re usually about 10 to 100 times, depending on the lake, that concentration and that is a legacy of 150 years of land management practices involving forestry, agriculture and the municipality stormwater runoff and septic tanks,” said Dave Priekshot, a subcontractor of Madrone Services and author of the report to council.
In 2016, four dogs died after reportedly ingesting algae from the lake.
This week, North Cowichan council got a new report into the problem.
For over 100 years, there has been a high level of phosphorus in the lake but officials don’t know how much it’s increasing from external sources.
“If we do some core testing we can determine that. We’re also going to test for things like turbidity, for oxygen levels and all those kinds of things. Those are all short term recommendations that council yesterday said ‘We’re going to start with that right away,'” said Al Siebring, North Cowichan’s mayor.
Siebring says once more testing is done council can look at the long term solutions.
Treatment options include aeration, flushing and treating lake inflows.
“Within three or four years, if we do this testing and follow through with the recommended actions, whatever that baseline determines we need to do, we’re actually going to see a noticeable difference in the quality of the lake,” said Siebring.
Siebring says that timeline aligns with the national rowing team training here full time after 2020.
Volunteers working on improving the lake’s water quality say they’re glad council is spending time and money on this issue
“So we’re very pleased with the reaction of council and the direction it’s taking,” said Jim Cosh of Quamichan Stewards.
The next round of testing is expected to happen this summer with another report going to council in the fall.