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Article: Pristine Ecosystem in White Lake Watershed

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.”

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