North Cowichan to tackle invaders in Somenos Creek

Measures will soon be taken to deal with the contamination of Somenos Creek with parrotfeather milfoil.

Measures will soon be taken to deal with the contamination of Somenos Creek with parrotfeather milfoil.

But what exactly they will be has yet to be determined.

The Municipality of North Cowichan decided at the council meeting on Dec. 21 that it would earmark approximately $100,000 “in principle” from the budget for 2017 to remove the invasive plants from the creek, with the final amount to be determined.

Parrotfeather (Myriophyllum aquaticum) originated in South America and was introduced in North America as an aquatic plant for gardens and aquariums, according to the Invasive Species Council of British Columbia.

It’s been speculated that the introduction of parrotfeather in Somenos Creek was likely due to someone cleaning an aquarium.

It’s likely the plant, free of the confines of the tank, then proliferated.

North Cowichan Mayor Jon Lefebure said it’s hoped that the province and other stakeholders will also agree to partner with North Cowichan to deal with the issue.

The municipality is also in the process of establishing a task force to deal with the toxic blue-green algae that is building up in Quamichan Lake and has been connected to the death of at least four dogs recently.

“It’s not really clear at this stage what can be done to deal with the parrotfeather in Somenos Creek,” Lefebure said.

“It’s a pernicious and invasive species and if you just cut it, it would likely just spread the problem. A process that might work involves hand-pulling the plants and using a vacuum system at the same time.”

Lefebure said there are indications that the cost of dealing with the problem could be as high as $500,000, and there’s still no guarantees that DFO or other authorities would allow it because it might impact fish flows in the region.

“We still have a lot of work to do to determine the best approach to deal with this, and finding partners to help us with it,” he said.

Lefebure said Somenos Creek also has issues with blue-green algae and the Quamichan Lake task force, which will begin meeting early in the new year, could use the information that is garnered in that process to assist in dealing with it.

But he said Quamichan Lake has not yet had a major problem with parrotfeather.

“It may be that the water in Quamichan Lake is too fast moving for parrotfeather to form, or it may be just that no one has yet dumped an aquarium into it,” he said.

“We still have a lot to learn.”