Osoyoos needs full-time mussel inspection, says mayor

By ROY WOOD

The town of Osoyoos will send a letter to “a whole lot of people” expressing frustration at the province for not establishing a permanent invasive mussel inspection station the Osoyoos border crossing.

The cause for concern involves information provided by the province last week concerning the installation of eight inspection stations, five along the BC-Alberta border and three along the BC-Washington boundary.

As reported in the Osoyoos Daily News, what the program does not include is a permanent inspection station at the Osoyoos border crossing, a major entry point into southern BC.

In the South Okanagan, a team of four is headquartered in Penticton. It operates a mobile inspection team that will set up at Osoyoos, Kaleden or Midway.

The crew will include “two people, a truck and a decontamination unit,” said crew-leader Barbara Leslie in an interview Monday.

She said normal operating procedure will see just one of the three locations active at any one time. They will operate seven days a week, 10 hours a day.

Leslie said her group is gathering information about boat traffic flows across the border at Midway and Osoyoos. Once the intelligence is gathered, they will develop a schedule about where and when the crew will be dispatched.

Mayor Sue McKortoff said in an interview that Osoyoos is a high-volume entry point from the US and should have a permanent inspection station. After all, “It only take one boat” contaminated with invasive mussels to introduce them into Osoyoos Lake.

Councillor Carol Youngberg pointed out that a large number of local boats have been in the US for the winter may carry invasive mussels into the lake. She pointed out that “Lake Mead is full of invasive mussels.”

McKortoff said she would be attending an Okanagan Basin Water Board meeting Tuesday and would pursue the matter there.

Aside from the lack of a derangement station in Osoyoos, council was happy with the province’s initiative, which is aimed at keeping quagga and zebra mussels out of BC’s lakes and rivers.

According to the province, “(They) pose a serious threat to BC’s aquatic ecosystems, salmon populations, hydro power stations and other infrastructure facilities.

“They can clog pipes, cause ecological and economic damage, displace native aquatic plants and wildlife, degrade the environment and affect drinking water.”

The program is being funded by electric utilities around BC with staff, equipment and office space provided by the province.

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