Ideology is an Invasive Weed (Part One)

Sad news. My beautiful lake, with its jewels of melting ice reflecting the sky …


is a bit of a sewer, too, when the freezing line gets in close to shore and the wind kicks up. Well, even a teeny little bit of wind, really.


Water management in the Okanagan Valley sometimes is interpreted as “managing budgets” by chopping up invasive Eurasian Water Milfoil plants with a big waterborne threshing machine so that people can swim a hundred yards out in the summer and not get tangled up in the icky weeds (a gift of summer boating visitors two generations ago).


Tons of chopped up milfoil leaves and stems are then left to rot all the winter long. In land-based terms, this is called a compost pile.


More like compost soup.


Given that a lake breathes through its shore, well, if we want a living planet, this makes no sense whatsoever. But, what the heck, the pebbly volcanic shore has already been replaced with ancient ocean sandstone. In lake terms, that’s the equivalent of covering the lake’s lips with duck tape.


This is a form of environmental triage. It would cost millions to try to deal with the milfoil problem, or the nitrate problem that is feeding the damn stuff, or the missing fish that have no oxygen because of a) milfoil and b) rotting chopped up milfoil crud, or the tourism and agricultural industries that babble on about the pristine water. They do. They babble on about that. Presumably, someone must believe this mutually-agreed-upon delusion.


Not to mention the shrimp that were imported to the lake some 40 years ago to feed the fish but lo the shrimp ate the same food as the young fish, so that was a flop. Worse than a flop. It was a disaster. It would cost millions to deal with that, too, so there is an experimental shrimp fishery now, on a trial basis, to see if harvesting shrimp is economically viable.


Economically viable? What on earth does this have to do with economics? How about environmentally viable? I think ideology has gotten the better of us. I think people can say the nicest, smartest-sounding things, when what they’re really looking at and promoting full throttle is death.

P1130546Even if we scooped up the damned weeds when the wind drove them onto shore in October we’d be better off than this, but, of course, there’s no budget for that, either, because governments are run like businesses and ministries of the environment are really ministries of the manipulation of public opinion to keep things exactly as they are at the expense of the earth, and light.


4 replies »

  1. It doesn’t help that the City runs a Spray Irrigation program from April to October, directly above hundreds of homes that are still serviced by septic, above this lake.

    (Or maybe it does help, in encouraging that pesky milfoil to grow?)

    And from November to March, when our treated wastewater is stored in a leaky reservoir high in the hills above town… it all makes its way down to the lake, one way or another, to Kalamalka & Okanagan.


  2. Oh, that spray program is an embarrassment, for sure. It succeeds at replacing productive grasslands with a) hamburgers and b) lake weeds. As for the septic tanks, they at least keep the water flowing through subsurface systems… what is missing is the wetlands that can turn that water into a living system. They are covered with sport fields, an airport, houses, and so on. And so, where is the wetland, the swampy stuff, now? Right in the lake. Sheesh. And millions of dollars are spent on water annually. But it’s not really water … it’s wages, really, and infrastructure for delivering that water in traditional ways. No one is looking after the water, actually. Sounds like you have noticed that, too!


    • Yes, indeed!

      Well-functioning septic does not concern me much, but I worry that excessive irrigation above septic makes me the unwitting accomplice of a city-sponsored pollution program of Okanagan Lake!

      After many letters, phone calls, photos and videos, the City sent a professional scientist to test our soils. His report was not shared with us, but a few months later, a French ditch was installed above our properties. This ditch diverts spray irrigation runoff to other neighbourhoods so they can suffer the impacts too – and what about our lake? Meanwhile, banks collapsed and roads were closed… and still no admission – instead, an official denial – that this had anything to do with spray irrigation or reservoir seepage. And now, a strange white pipe in the middle of a field below our neighbourhoods, leaking ice… broken off again. Sigh. This is not beneficial irrigation, this is waste disposal.

      Until we can admit that our current approach to “waste”water treatment (and the value of water) is not ideal, how will we ever find support for a more progressive solution?


      • It sure does sound like bad stuff is happening over there. One thing that really puts a knife into my gut is that all this is happening on land set aside as the commonage in 1891 (or so), for both Syilx and settler use, to be decided at a later date, and which was then taken for settler use in 1895. It has been in land claim ever since. We are, in effect, not only spraying treated sewage on Syilx land (and grazing cattle on Syilx crops) but causing that invasion to invade other developments (such as yours), which are not built on that foundation. What a graphical representation of bad history, and what a representation of the need to resolve old wrongs to prevent new ones. Perhaps the first step would be to create an indigenous garden, to help turn the mindset away from green hills towards the greater wealth of brown ones. That white pipe does indeed sound terrible. There’s just no excuse for sloppiness like that. It shows great disrespect to your neighbourhood, and to the land itself, as if it were all an engineering problem to solve using the few scrap pieces in an obsolete and far-too-small toolbox. Keep me posted on the developments, and if you have an address for that pipe, and that ditch, I’ll come over and take some pictures for the blog. Harold


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