An island of debris

Boaters on Shuswap and Mara lakes encouraged to be careful and courteous

High level of debris in lakes poses danger to boaters.

With high water in Shuswap and Mara lakes, boaters are being encouraged to be particularly cautious, both for their own safety and out of respect for foreshore residents.

The Columbia Shuswap Regional District, through its Shuswap Emergency Program, is asking boaters to be aware of the height of the wake caused by their vessels and the impact can have.

A SEP news release states that with high water and flooding, “boats traveling at high speed and close to the shore can cause waves that increase the water level as much as two feet, resulting in increased flooding and damage to affected residents.”

That damage may include erosion of a home’s foundation, depending on the structure.

Boaters should also be cautious of the masses of debris currently adrift on both lakes. Sicamous RCMP Sgt. Carl Vinet cautions there is a lot more debris than usual in the lakes. This is the result of fast-flowing water from rivers and streams, which has picked up branches, deadhead logs and other detritus, and washed it all into the lakes. Debris from the shoreline has also been washed out by the high water.

Pat Gau, deputy station leader with the Shuswap’s  Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue crew, says it’s normal for debris to wash out , as he’s seen in his past 25 years on lakes. But he calls this one of the busier years, and he too encourages boaters to take be careful and courteous.

“Things happen very quickly on the water and one has to be especially cautious of the debris in wavy weather, especially with the logs and deadheads that are bobbing up and down – they don’t show up until you’re right on top of them,” says Gau. He also warns that boaters stay away from river mouths or give a wide berth around them, as that is where much of the debris is coming from.

One more piece of advice is to be mindful of what direction the wind is blowing. Gau says if it’s an eastward wind, that is where the debris will be headed, in which case he recommends keeping to the west side of the lake.

 

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