South Shuswap Scoop July 2020
By Barbra Fairclough
The White Lake Residents Association (WLRA) Water Committee
has been active in some form for over a decade. Its long history of
monitoring lake water quality of White Lake offers a solid foundation
for speaking to factors influencing lake water health.
Nick Najda, Chair of the WLRA Water Quality Committee says with
the support of biologists and committed volunteers trained in water
testing and sampling, they have a robust water testing program.
Included in the testing is water sedimentation sampling with the
Secchi test as well, full spectrum analysis measured against Canadian
Drinking Water Standards and Canadian Recreational Water Standards.
The rate of water replacement in the lake, also called flushing rate
is a factor that effects water quality. The replacement rate is
determined by the inflow and out flow of the lake.
Inflows to the lake are predominantly from Cedar Creek at the
east end of the lake, within White Lake Park. Parri Creek is a smaller
inflow located about midway down the lake on the north side. The
outflow of the lake is at the west end where water is regulated through
a weir into Little White Lake.
White Lake takes about 20 years to recharge. This is especially
important where contaminants are concerned. Small impacts on lake
health can be felt quickly and have a lasting effect. White Lake is
unique in many ways. “The site on the south shore of the lake ranks of
equal significance to the Mara Meadows Ecological Reserve and is
sensitive to disturbance. White Lake Park plan objective is to protect
biological diversity values.”(BC Park Management Plan)
The wide riparian area is habitat for many species at risk
including plant species and the endangered Western Painted Turtle.
The lake is scenic and is classed as oligotrophic which means there is a
high degree of water clarity. It is renowned as one of the top fly fishing
lakes in BC. White Lake is also a marl lake. Marl lakes are
characterized by their turquoise colour during warmer temperatures.
They usually have lower phosphorus levels and higher water clarity.
To preserve this pristine area, the White Lake Stewardship
Committee has been taking steps to bring the White-Lake Bastion
Forest Service Road into compliance with regulations and road
standard. Currently the road covers 15% of White Lake riparian area.
Meaningful consultation with BC Parks as well as Ministry of
Forests (FLNRO)about White Lake Forest Service Road and its potential
impact on health of White Lake are in process. FLNRO has secured
funding for engineering and planning the road relocation to move the
road outside of park boundaries.
The Forest Stewardship Committee of WLRA is also meaningfully
engaged with ministry officials regarding sustainable forest
management in the White Lake watershed. The watershed’s capacity
to buffer is central in maintaining water quality as well. The watershed
includes the slopes surrounding the lake from which water flows to the
lake. Land use practices in the watershed ultimately impact lake water
Najda says taking the whole view of the lake ecosystem means
that industrial, recreational, tourism and community values can be
upheld in a balanced manner to support all user interests. As Najda
defines “Water quality is the foundation of our interests. We want to
make sustainable decisions taking in current realities.”
For more information go to www.WLRA.ca