Letter: Time to address water quality in Quamichan Lake

That means a full, legal stop to feeding nutrients to the toxic blue-green algae

Time to address water quality in Quamichan Lake

Dear mayor and council:

Rowing Canada’s continued use of Quamichan Lake for training winning Olympians is a golden opportunity to address the obscene multi-source pollution that is killing our lake.

North Cowichan councillors could win gold medals among environmentalists if they act now to save our over-studied lake.

Councillors must urgently work with Victoria and Ottawa to declare Quamichan Lake an eco-zone.

That means a full, legal stop to feeding nutrients to the toxic blue-green algae fouling and choking our lake.

In part, councillors must pass overdue bylaws banning farm manure and home-based sewage leaking into our ailing lake.

Nutrients can be removed with technology for treating manure and sewage at its source.

Lake property owners and farmers would be required to hook into our municipal sewage system — finally ending their use of medieval septic and storage systems.

Farmers and homeowners who do not comply with council’s cogent, zero-nutrient policy should face fines and/or drastic tax hikes, for starters.

The carrot could be tax breaks and/or grants to help property owners finally shift to clean-sewage solutions.

But those algal foods are also spiced with toxic run-off into our dying lake from local roads and properties.

Such run-off carries poisonous pesticides and herbicides, plus fecal material, vehicle oil and other controllable pollutants.

Declaring Quamichan an eco-zone would mean trapping and treating storm- and road run-off.

Council’s bylaws must also ban habitat loss from farm and developer land clearing, and logging, around Quamichan.

A development freeze around our lake could be another tool to saving queasy Quamichan.

And Citizen newspaper reporter Robert Barron rightly indicated — in his July 29, 2021 op-ed — the potential for Rowing Canada oarspeople to get sick by ingesting foul water while training on Quamichan.

Indeed, several dogs have already died after entering our toxic-algae lake.

Such a human tragedy could sink Rowing Canada’s plans for future lake use, and for building a training centre there.

It’s critical that our councillors pull together now and save our lake — and its future as a recreational and Rowing Canada destination.

Yours in health and ecology,

Peter W. Rusland

North Cowichan

Cowichan Valley Citizen