Kelowna, B.C. – For three-and a-half years, the Okanagan Basin Water Board (OBWB) has been sounding the alarm about the strong possibility of invasive zebra and quagga mussels coming into our valley, asking the Province of B.C. and the federal government to act to protect our waters. In the meantime, the Water Board launched its own “Don’t Move a Mussel” campaign to help raise awareness. Today, the province announced improved protections. This follows a similar pronouncement by the federal government in December. The OBWB is pleased to see this issue gaining attention.
“It’s a good start, and we thank the province for taking action,” said OBWB Chair Doug Findlater, following today’s announcement. “It’s a foundation to build upon. And if the province determines that the threat of these mussels needs greater attention, we hope to see enhanced protection.” The province’s announcement notes $1.3 million in funding over the next two years, beginning in April for the 2015 boating season. The plan includes three two-person trained auxiliary conservation officer crews conducting roving inspections in B.C. with the ability to decontaminate mussel-fouled boats entering B.C. from Alberta. The officers will also respond to boats identified as a concern by the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) and other U.S. partner agencies. There will also be 24 new highway signs featuring the “Clean, Drain, Dry” (CDD) message at significant entry points into B.C., expanded monitoring for zebra and quagga mussels and an increase in CDD education and outreach.