December 22, 2017
PROPOSED MEASURES TO PROTECT SANDY LAKE FROM AIS
The Friends of Sandy Lake committee on Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) made a presentation to the Council of Harrison Park on October 31, 2017 asking for assistance to help us protect Sandy Lake.
The proposal presented to Council is to:
Restrict boat launching activity to the main dock at Sandy Lake and
Operate an AIS inspection station there.
Boaters wanting to launch their watercraft into Sandy Lake would be approached by a provincially trained AIS Inspector. The Inspector would ask questions about the watercraft and get permission to inspect the boat in order to determine if it can be launched into Sandy Lake or if it must be decontaminated.
Why would we want to inspect watercraft before they are launched into Sandy Lake?
An infestation is ecologically destructive, economically devastating, and lasts forever. If Sandy Lake were to become invaded by zebra mussels:
Docks, boats and boat lifts that remain in the water will become encrusted with them,
Cooling systems of boat motors would become clogged and require costly maintenance,
Pumps and water systems that draw water from the lake would become clogged and require maintenance,
Food sources for fish stocks would be significantly reduced, resulting in smaller and fewer fish,
Toxic blue-green algae blooms will increase,
Property values would be reduced because Sandy Lake would be a less desirable destination for swimming, boating and fishing,
Businesses especially campgrounds would suffer as tourism drops and
Downstream waterways would also become invaded.
Why should we have to do this?
Based on our experience questioning individuals launching their watercraft at the main dock, a few boaters had come from waters that were invaded with zebra mussels and they did not understand that they could introduce this invasive species into our lake. These individuals did not have their watercraft decontaminated in Headingly or Ericksdale and would have launched into our lake if someone had not questioned them.
This is an added layer of protection that we can put in place to protect Sandy Lake.
What is the Province of Manitoba doing to protect Sandy Lake?
Operates six (6) AIS Inspection/Decontamination Stations that are strategically located to intercept watercraft leaving invaded waters before they get to our lake.
Posts signs regarding AIS.
Makes public presentations and publishes literature to increase public awareness of this threat
Monitors lakes and waterways for signs of AIS (including Sandy Lake).
Is the Province doing enough to protect Sandy Lake?
The committee has been working with the province to better protect Sandy Lake and have made the following recommendations:
The six existing Inspection/Decontamination Stations need to operate longer hours. Many watercraft pass by these stations when they are closed.
Additional Inspection/Decontamination stations are needed in Western Manitoba to make it more convenient for individuals to have their watercraft decontaminated. The Headingly station is 2.5 hours away and if a person is prevented from launching into our lake, they are unlikely to have their watercraft decontaminated and may launch into another nearby lake.
The Province needs to enforce the Manitoba Water Protection Act. The act states that a first infraction could result in a maximum fine of $50,000 and/or 6 months in jail. The Province is working towards this and anticipates having a list of violations and their corresponding fines in place for the 2018 boating season. Hopefully the RCMP and Conservation Officers will be enforcing them.
Has the Province offered any assistance beyond what they are already doing?
Yes, the province will:
Train the Sandy Lake AIS Inspectors so they are using the same methods as the Inspectors working for the Province. This will involve two (2) days of training and the Province will do this twice, once before the boating season begins and a second time in June.
Supply us with updated signage for the lakes within the Municipality of Harrison Park.
Help us with educational material we can use to bring our community up to speed regarding this threat to our lake.
How much will it cost to protect Sandy Lake?
At a meeting held at Frontier House on October 12, 2017, the committee proposed setting up a shed like building near the main dock for inspectors and using volunteers to do AIS inspections. It was suggested that we consider a "Special Service Fee" to fund the ongoing operating costs such as wages for inspectors and the other incidental costs that would be incurred each year. The Special Service Fee would cost property owners in and around Sandy Lake about $50 annually.
Friends of Sandy Lake would raise about $20,000 to cover the startup costs.