Tough year for milfoil
Kate Bouey - Aug 24, 2017 - Biz Releases

Image: Heather Sharpe
North Okanagan resident says her beach is covered in milfoil despite efforts to clean it up

It’s not something James Littley is happy about but his prediction of more milfoil than normal growing in Okanagan Valley lakes this year has come true.

“We have a 10 tonne truck and that is loaded every day from the South to the North Okanagan,” said Littley, the Okanagan Basin Water Board’s operations and grants manager.

The pesky Eurasian milfoil weed is scooped up by an aquatic weed harvester that cuts it, transfers it on board by conveyor belt and then takes it to shore to the truck.

In the winter, rototillers are used in the lake to pull up the roots of the weeds.

“Our group is doing the absolute best that it can,” said Corrine Jackson, OBWB spokesperson. “It’s been a tough, tough year for milfoil.”

Major flooding on the lakes delayed the start to the milfoil prevention program and then hot temperatures over July and August allowed the weed to flourish, Jackson said.

Meanwhile, some residents said they are tired of the milfoil washing up along their shoreline.

“It’s like a big, rotting, green mess,” described Heather Sharpe, who moved to the North Okanagan this year and lives on Okanagan Lake. “It’s heavy, wet, stinking stuff.”

Sharpe and her husband collected four bags of milfoil off of their shoreline over four days this week and, she said, there was at least that much or more to collect.

Littley said the harvester captures most of the milfoil although some is left behind and that wind and wave patterns can sometimes move it to shore. As well, boats cutting through the water can slice up the weeds.

“They do smell,” acknowledged Littley, adding that the milfoil will dry out in a couple of days losing 90 per cent of its volume.

The OBWB’s cuttings are used for compost.

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