CHARLIE LAKE, B.C. – Concerns were high after a health advisory was issued for Charlie Lake in the summer by Northern Health and last night those concerns were addressed at a public meeting.
Algae which is always an occurrence in lakes caused a health advisory to be issued by Northern Health in August. While there is algae in lakes year-round, Northern Health issued the advisory because the blue-green algae contained toxins that are poisonous to humans. Blue-green algae usually forms where there is little water movement.
Northern Health listed the following precautions to be taken:
- Follow the advisories of your local Government, local Health Authority, and Ministers.
- Never drink untreated water from lakes, ponds, or wetlands. Boiling water with blue-green algae does not kill it.
- Never wade, swim, or bathe in water with visible blooms.
- Never cook, wash dishes, or do laundry in water heavily contaminated with blue-green algae.
- Never let pets in water with blue-green algae. Provide them with other clean water to drink.
Last night at the public meeting, there were representatives from Government Agencies, Northern Health and the Charlie Lake Conservation Society.
The meeting was meant for education purposes to help people understand what can and will be done to protect the lake.
People may wonder why the lake is a green colour. The Charlie Lake Conservation Society says the reasoning for this is because the lake itself is quite shallow.
Northern Health says that heat cannot kill the toxins that come from blue-green algae.
“What causes that toxin to be released from the algae cell to the environment is 2 reasons. The natural life cycle of the algae, say on Monday, you can have your algae cell not producing any toxins or storing anything but then on Tuesday it releases a lot of that toxin. It can’t be predicted when the toxin will be released into the environment.
The second reason is that water treatment and cells being ruptured. I mentioned that actual toxins are stored within the cells. You can think of this: If the cell breaks or is ruptured in any way, then whatever is inside the cell will be released into the environment. So if you have blue-green algae in the water and it is producing and storing toxin. If for whatever reason those cells are ruptured, it would then release all the contents into the water in that local area.”
Northern Health says you should never boil the water that is contaminated by blue-green algae. One reason is because hot water will rupture the cell and release the toxins, as stated above. Another reason is because the toxin is heat stable and won’t be bothered by hot water.
The Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resources
The Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resources were also present at the meeting. They discussed the water sustainability act which replaced the water act earlier this year.
Anyone that is planning to remove annual vegetation from their property must notify a habitat officer 45 days prior to the work. The application is an online process. The habitat officer has 45 days to review that notification and ensure that the notification complies with regulations as well as all regional terms and conditions.
Anybody doing work must also follow municipal acts, federal acts, other provincial acts as well as the provincial and stream-works best management practices.
Fish and fish habitat are also an important topic to the Ministry. The said the best window of time to do work that will impact fish the least is between July 15th to August 15th.
The Ministry of Environment
The Ministry of Environment touched on numerous topics. There are thousands of species of algae according to the Ministry. They say that only 2% of those are actually toxic producing. They noted that there are toxin producing algae in this area and that is why they are so concerned about Charlie Lake.
Charles Robinson was brought in by Dirty Dirt with a potential solution to cleaning up the lake or helping reduce the algae.
The solution is to use microbes that are already present in Charlie Lake to solve some of the problems that the lake is experiencing. The goal is to remove some of the excess organics currently in the lake.
Carefully selected micro organs would digest organic materials quickly and completely. Once algae and weeds die and sink to the bottom of the lake, they will form a biomass of excess organics.
In the process of digesting organics, it won’t cause any gasses or smells. The bacteria they would use to get rid of excess organics is the same as us, they breathe oxygen and they exhale carbon dioxide.
They would use DSL listed bacteria, meaning that they are on the Canadian Domestic Substance List. They are non-pathogenic meaning they can’t hurt humans, or animals.