Just as in our backyard, the protection of water in our lakes and in the backcountry is vitally important.
The Okanagan is well-known for its outdoor activities—swimming, boating, hiking, camping, ATVing, skiing, and more. As we explore our beautiful surroundings, it is important to remember that our lakes, rivers and streams are connected and are sensitive ecosystems.
Stick to maintained trails
Off-road activities, like dirt- or mountain-biking, near watersources can compact soils, reducing the flow of groundwater, and can kick up sediments, creating murky water that harms aquatic creatures. Grease and oil from bikes can also contaminate the water. Instead, stick to maintained trails in approved riding areas and avoid riding near or through streams and creeks. Use those challenging bridges!
Stop invasive hitchhikers
Aquatic Invasive Species are non-native plants and animals introduced to a lake, river, creek, wetland or other water body. Without natural enemies to control their spread, these species out-compete native plants and animals for food and space.
A good example is Eurasian Watermilfoil (milfoil), first discovered in the Vernon Arm of Okanagan Lake in 1970. Today, this pesky weed is kept in check by the Okanagan Basin Water Board, with rototilling in the winter and harvesting (mowing) in the summer. Learn more about milfoil in our video.
Another invasive species of concern is the Zebra Mussel, and closely related Quagga Mussel. These mussels have not been found in the Okanagan, but have been discovered in U.S. lakes and all five of the Great Lakes. There are great efforts to prevent their introduction into our waters. These freshwater mussels are known for causing billions of dollars in damage to local government infrastructure. They clog water intake pipes, but also out-compete local species for food and affect water quality.
Learn more at www.dontmoveamussel.ca.
Find flyers, kids activity sheets and more on Aquatic Invasive Species here.
Go soap free
Whenever possible, avoid using soap in the backcountry (even biodegradable ones). The chemicals in soap can harm fish and aquatic plants and cause algae blooms that turn clear water murky. Make your backcountry showers and baths soap free. If you use soap to do your camping dishes, dump the soapy water far from any watersource. The ground can act like a filter to remove the soap before the water makes its way back into the water system.
Ninjas? Water Warriors -- protecting the Okanagan's water?
Check out this video and learn what you can do to help look after our drinking water!
Learn more about milfoil control in the Okanagan!
For more information about backcountry use in watersheds visit: