Wetlands project getting built ‘six years too late’

Wetlands project getting built ‘six years too late’

Sundial Road resident Norm Gaumont stands in front of a frozen Vaseux Lake, which he expects will become inundated with milfoil again come summer. Pictured in the top right are piles of the weeds that were raked out of the lake in 2016

Dan Walton
Oliver Chronicle

The RDOS is finally going to filter out the crap that ends up in Vaseux Lake.

That’s because the board approved $383,701 for the Okanagan Falls Constructed Wetland last month.

“Very good news, but six years too late,” said Norbert Gaumont of the Vaseux Lake Stewardship Association (VLSA). “For us this is a major step forward, even though it should have been done prior to 2013. Better late than never.”

In 2012, when the Okanagan Falls Sewage Treatment Plant was built, effluent began flowing into Vaseux without getting filtered through a wetland. Since then, the body of water has become inundated with milfoil, and Gaumont believes the ecology was severely altered by chemicals introduced from the treatment plant.

In Sept. 2016, the Chronicle was told by the RDOS that construction on a wetlands project would begin in the fall of 2017.

A wetlands filtration “Gives us a sense that there’s at least a mechanism for chemical inhibitors and heavy metals,” he said.

Gaumont and the VLSA made sure the issue didn’t stay on the RDOS’s back burner for too long.

“We’ve been constantly calling them, getting updates in relation to when this would be completed. Our concern was to make sure this was moving forward to completion. We certainly put it up on the agenda – previously there’s no doubt that the RDOS didn’t have it as one of their priorities.”

Gaumont gives credit to former Area D director Tom Siddon, “Who went public when they were about to move the money allocated for the wetlands somewhere else.”

But the fight is only half over – Gaumont and the VLSA are still trying to overcome red tape in order to get a rototiller in the lake and mow the milfoil.

Vaseux Lake residents have been diligently trying to clean up the milfoil, but it’s a challenging task as they wait for a professional rototilling machine to tackle it. (File photo)