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Water Today Title June 29, 2022

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Asvisory of the Day



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Fish were noticed floating in the south end waters of Douglas Lake, British Columbia, by an Upper Nicola Band (UNB) members on August 10. UNB Councilor Brian Holmes said that "overnight the water changed colour." An investigation was launched by the community and samples were taken and analyzed by the First Nations Health Authority (FNHA).

Holmes explained that it was believed that the discolouration of the water was in fact a blue-green algae bloom and the fish deaths may be related. FNHA advised the band to "issue [blue-green algae] advisories whether or not" test results confirm the presence of the bacteria". The lab results "came back 100% positive" for blue-green algae, Holmes said.

Around the time the bloom began to form on the lake, the area was experiencing a period of "dead weather, no wind or precipitation," Holmes said. Once the wind and rain picked up the bloom is less noticeable. Holmes added the blue-green algae is "still present along the shore." The community is now waiting on the return of the toxicity tests.

Holmes explained that "the community hasn't been that affected by this bloom, we get our drinking water from another source well away from the lake." What is worrisome is that the community "uses the lake as a food source."

There have been four fish species that were observed to have been killed "Sucker, Prickly Sculpin, Shiners, and White Fish." Blooms remove oxygen from the water and Kokanees are most vulnerable in low oxygen situations.

Blue-green algae forms when there is a presence of phosphorous or nitrogen in the water. Holmes said that there is an "alfalfa field that is rich in nitrogen" in the area and suggest this may have had an impact on the lake.

The advisory remains in place for the time being, and Holmes said that "given the weather [the advisory] will remain until at least the end of September. Until then those that leave in the community will refrain from recreational activities in Douglas Lake. VIHA expects the advisory to last another week or so.

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