Little risk from algae in Okanagan Lake

July 4, 2009
To the editor:

This letter is in response to your recent article, profiling my work on toxic blue-green algae in Okanagan Lake.

While the article was factual, I am concerned that the headline exaggerated the results of the study, and may have caused unnecessary alarm among residents. (Water Intakes at Risk from Toxic Algae Blooms, July 1 Capital News)

My research found that while care and monitoring are needed, toxic algae are well below accepted levels in Okanagan Lake.

As a scientist with a long record of studying water quality, I can assure the public that tap water drawn from Okanagan Lake is safe and among the best available anywhere—I drink it myself with confidence.

Our water purveyors are very serious about maintaining this level of excellence, with up-to-date treatment methods. That’s why they and the Okanagan Basin Water Board funded this study.

As intended, the study identified the ideal intake depths to avoid algae, and water managers will use this information to plan system improvements.

If the public wishes to help protect our water quality, they can take steps to reduce nutrient pollution getting into storm water, streams and lakes by limiting their use of nitrogen fertilizers and maintaining their septic systems—we are all part of the solution.

Heather Larratt, R.P. Bio