‘Head to the Playzone!’ is a new campaign to educate Okanagan power boaters on when to go slow and keep wakes slow, and why it matters. The campaign follows the completion of a 2019 study that found wakes could disturb the lake bottom up to a depth of eight metres. (Stock photo)

Local governments call on Okanagan boaters to keep wakes low in shallow water

Conclusion of study finds power boats can disturb lake bottom in water up to 8 metres deep

Local governments in the Okanagan are calling on boaters to be mindful of their wakes in shallow water, for the sake of swimmers, drinking water, wildlife, the shoreline and more.

Power boaters on Kalamalka and Wood lakes are asked to go slow and keep wakes low as they head to the ‘Playzone’, where water is deeper than eight metres.

The call to action comes after the conclusion of a 2019 study, which identified that wakes and prop wash from powerboats could disturb the lake bottom up to a depth of eight metres, creating drinking water problems when contaminants in lake bottom sediment are kicked up by wakes, entering drinking water intakes. These contaminants can include bacteria, heavy metals, pesticide residues and hydrocarbons.

“The contaminants can enter lakes through stormwater run-off. They settle on the lake bottom and are naturally covered by new non-harmful sediment like sand and fine clay particles. However, when the sediment is disturbed and kicked up by boats, those harmful substances are back in transit in the water and can be drawn into water intakes.” said Tricia Brett, water quality manager with the Regional District of North Okanagan.

Water intakes in Kalamalka Lake provide drinking water for approximately 60,000 people and increased contaminants in the raw water can lead to higher water treatment costs, Brett said.

READ MORE: Design concepts released for Oyama Isthmus Park

READ MORE: Shuswap dragon boaters honour teammate’s cancer-fighting accomplishments

So, how deep should the water be before boats hit higher speeds and bigger wakes?

“Once you’re deeper than eight metres or approximately 25 feet, that’s your best play-zone!” said Heather Larratt, lead researcher of the 2019 study.

“Not only will you help keep drinking water clean, protect habitat and avoid unnecessary erosion of the rail trail, deeper is better for making great waves for sports like wake boarding or water skiing. It’s a win-win.” says Larratt.”

Other boating impacts in shallow water include the disturbance of fish habitats and shoreline bird nesting, as well as shoreline erosion that can affect the Okanagan Rail Trail.

“There are natural factors that cause erosion to the shorelines on the lakes. Storms can generate large waves, but the storms usually travel in a north-south direction and over time, storm waves have created rock and pebble beaches,” said Greg Buchholz, director of infrastructure services for the District of Lake Country.

“Wakes from boats create waves that hit the shore at a much higher frequency and come from many directions which impacts the shorelines in ways that the storms do not.”

Boating in shallow waters at high speeds also increases the risk of injury to swimmers and anyone recreating near the shoreline, officials said.

‘Head to the Playzone!’ is a new campaign effort by the RDNO, the District of Lake Country, the District of Coldstream and the Okanagan Collaborative Conservation Program, with support from the Okanagan Basin Water Board through it’s Water Quality and Conservation Grants.


Brendan Shykora
Reporter, Vernon Morning Star
Email me at Brendan.Shykora@vernonmorningstar.com
Follow us: Facebook | Twitter

Boating

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Above, MLA-elect Doug Clovechok cast his vote early. Photo submitted
MLA-elect Clovechok reflects on election

He’s ready to get to work as an opposition MLA, he says

x
Morning Start: Bubble wrap was originally intended to be wallpaper

Your morning start for Monday, Oct. 26, 2020

Your Columbia River Revelstoke candidates; Nicole Cherlet (NDP); Samson Boyer (Green) and Doug Clovechok (BC Liberal). The polls are closed and ballots being counted. (File photo)
BC VOTES: Clovechok preliminary winner with 52 per cent of the vote

35 of 77 polls have reported and The Canadian Press is calling Clovechok winner

NDP headquarters on election night, Oct. 24, 2020. (Katya Slepian/Black Press Media)
ELECTION 2020: Live blog from B.C. party headquarters

BC NDP projected to win majority government – but celebrations will look different this election

B.C. Green Party leader Sonia Furstenau outlines her party's climate action platform at Nanaimo's Vancouver Island Conference Centre earlier this month. (News Bulletin file photo)
Green leader Furstenau declared victor in her home riding on Vancouver Island

Cowichan Valley voters elect freshly minted party leader for her second term

NDP Leader John Horgan celebrates his election win in the British Columbia provincial election in downtown Vancouver, B.C., Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Horgan celebrates projected majority NDP government, but no deadline for $1,000 deposit

Premier-elect says majority government will allow him to tackle issues across all of B.C.

The Penticton Indian Band is opposing any hunting of local big horn sheep which are an at-risk population. (submitted photo)
Penticton Indian Band oppose big horn sheep hunts

Local big horn sheep are an at-risk population

FILE – B.C. Lions and Toronto Argonauts owner, Senator David Braley speaks after the CFL announced Vancouver will host the 2014 Grey Cup championship football game during a news conference in Vancouver, B.C., on Friday March 8, 2013. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
BC Lions owner David Braley dead at 79

Braley had bought the CFL team prior to 1997 season

An Instagram post from Matty Rebman shows his injuries as well as a plea to the driver who struck him. (Instagram/Matty Rebman)
Hit and run kills dog, severely injures West Kelowna man

The car was abandoned but police could not locate its driver

École de l’Anse-au-sable. (Google Maps)
COVID-19 outbreak forces closure of Kelowna school

French-language school École de l’Anse-au-sable will remain closed until Nov. 4

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Vernon Fire Rescue Services responded to a vehicle that crashed into a Vernon home on 17th Street Sunday, Oct. 25, 2020. (City of Vernon photo)
Woman faces drunk driving charges after crashing Mustang into Vernon home

Vehicle occupants and one resident reported sustaining minor injuries in Sunday incident

A heavy police presence was spotted in Lumby, Monday, Oct. 26, 2020. (Facebook)
BREAKING: Police situation unfolding in Lumby

Police call for social media blackout in ongoing incident

Most Read