Milfoil control derailed in Osoyoos because of theft and vandalism

Vandalism and theft has stopped milfoil control efforts in Osoyoos Lake.

Gord Greer tosses a forkfull of Eurasian water milfoil harvested from Osoyoos Lake in this file photo.

Gord Greer tosses a forkfull of Eurasian water milfoil harvested from Osoyoos Lake in this file photo.

Vandalism and theft has stopped milfoil control efforts in Osoyoos Lake.

With only weeks left to rototill milfoil in Osoyoos Lake before winter freeze-up, the theft of specialized equipment and vandalism of the Okanagan Basin Water Board’s (OBWB) machines has effectively stopped efforts to control the invasive weed in the South Okanagan Lake.

“It’s really unfortunate,” said OBWB Office and Projects Manager James Littley. “The Water Board is already limited by environmental work windows and has added extra operator hours, during the work time available, to try and remove as much milfoil as possible. All of this is in an effort to ensure we have less of the troublesome weed in the lake for the upcoming summer and tourist season.”

The OBWB said rototilling is the most effective method of controlling the weed since it deroots the plant, allows it to float to the surface, and die. However, rototilling is only an option in the winter, explained Littley.  It can’t be done in summer since the plant will re-root in warmer conditions.  Instead, in the summer, the Water Board harvests (mows) the weed and only to a depth of about six feet.

The incident will delay rototilling at least a few days to allow staff to repair the machine and replace specialized safety equipment. Littley said it is unclear the cost of the damage and lost equipment at this time.  The incident has been reported to Osoyoos RCMP.

Anyone with information about the theft or vandalism is asked to contact Osoyoos RCMP at (250) 495-7236.