Saving Quamichan Lake is worth the investment.
It will be up to North Cowichan and local residents to convince senior levels of government of this.
Phosphorous contamination in Quamichan Lake is causing periodic blooms of toxic blue-green algae. Contaminants are coming from residential development, farms and logging, and it’s taken decades to get to this point. Algae has been a problem in the lake since at least the 1930s, said aquatic scientist Dr. Dave Preikshot, who was asked to prepare a report for North Cowichan council on the situation, after a number of dogs died from ingesting the toxic algae.
Preikshot tells us that the municipality has already gone above and beyond on this issue, and that it’s mostly a provincial problem.
But if we leave it up to the province, with nothing further said, we find it highly unlikely this will become a priority any time soon, in spite of the fact that a new national team rowing centre is set to be built on the lake.
While the lake may never be a pristine swimming destination, we must at least get it to the point where people don’t have to worry that they may actually die if they fall in and swallow some of the water when the algae is in bloom.
It’s going to be an expensive fix. A whole bunch of things need to be done to both clean up the lake as it stands now, and try to protect it from further contamination in the future. But the option of just leaving it so the water quality continues to degrade is not acceptable.
By all accounts, the Province of B.C. is doing pretty well financially right now. There is talk of surpluses and the like. We need to make sure that Quamichan is in line to get a few of those extra dollars. It’s time to lobby, folks. And the national rowing centre that’s going in is a chance to lobby the federal government for funds as well.
Our water bodies are incredibly resilient, but also remarkably fragile systems. We have to stop taking them for granted, and give them the TLC they need.