Council Considers Reserve Fund for Water Quality Improvements on Quamichan Lake

(July 19, 2018, North Cowichan, BC) Council has directed staff to bring forward a proposal for building a reserve fund to help continue the facilitation of water quality improvements on Quamichan Lake. 

The health of Quamichan Lake has been a focus for North Cowichan since concerns were raised during a toxic blue-green algae bloom in the summer of 2016. The management of waterbodies falls under the provincial governments jurisdiction, but the municipality recognizes that solving the eutrophication (enrichment of the environment with nutrients) on Quamichan Lake will require multi-jurisdictional resources and multiple approaches.  

The Quamichan Lake Water Quality Task Force, a group of concerned residents, neighbouring local governments, and experts specializing in lake health, recommended doing some work to help us better understand the health of Quamichan Lake, says Jon Lefebure, Mayor of North Cowichan. With residents and visitors using the lake for recreation, it was important to begin this ground work with the goal of attracting support from higher levels of government.

Island Health samples recreational waterbodies to monitor levels of bacteria and posts warnings on its website, please see Beach Reports. There is a permanent advisory for Quamichan Lakes Art Mann Park (located at the end of Indian Road) due to long standing high levels of bacteria. 

Blue-green algae may be present in Quamichan Lake and the greatest risk of exposure to toxins happens when water is ingested, said Dr. Shannon Waters, Island Health Medical Health Officer for the Cowichan Valley. Time-limited skin exposure is a much lower risk, however as a cautionary measure, we recommended that lake users rinse off after being in contact with the lake water.

Blue-green algae growth is relatively common in many urban lakes and has been observed on Quamichan Lake since the 1950s. Eutrophication is a slow and natural process in lakes, but human activity (land clearing, soil erosion, fertilizer use, failing septic systems) has accelerated this process and has led to the current conditions on Quamichan Lake. 

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For more information, please contact:

Jon Lefebure, Mayor
Municipality of North Cowichan
250-746-3203

Meribeth Burton, Media Relations
Island Health
250-519-1815 (local 11815)