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Water Today Title June 29, 2022

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Asvisory of the Day



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Okanagan Indian Band is warning the public to avoid contact with water due to algae blooms that have appeared in the northern arm of Lake Okanagan.

A high level of organic material is combining with warmer-than-average temperatures to create the unseasonal blooms of blue-green algae.

The band's Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) has advised against swimming, fishing and especially drinking the water. Even pets and livestock are recommended to be kept at bay. Unlike other water advisories, the EOC are saying that boiling will not reduce the effect of the harmful bacteria.

Just being exposed to the bacteria can cause skin irritation or allergic reactions in the eyes, ears or throat. Actually drinking the water can cause acute reactions to the kidney, liver and central nervous system with a possibility of death.

The bloom is expected to be around for the coming week and the band will be monitoring it accordingly.

Initial reports were that untreated sewage made its way into the lake but further testing has discounted that for now.

This comes on the heels of 200 seasonal and permanent homes on band land being evacuated due to flooding.

Further details were inquired about through the Okanagan Indian Band's communication department but all questions and requests for interviews were denied.

On the band's Facebook group, their moderator wrote, "One of the largest contributing factor to the bloom is the burlap sandbags and as residents and visitors have been preparing the flood barrier protections this equates several hundred thousand sandbags along the Okanagan Lake in the North Arm."

Lake Okanagan has seen its share of flooding related issues so far this summer. A boil water advisory was issued in West Kelowna in late May after high water levels resulted in the Westside Regional Water Treatment plant having to discharge treated sewage into the lake.

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