Grant a remedy for sick Quamichan?

Peter Rusland, Cowichan News Leader and Pictorial, November 7, 2008

Roger Hart envisions his grandson swimming in a clean Quamichan Lake within a few years.

The Quamichan Lake Stewardship Committee member’s dream of rejuvenating the polluted lake came closer Wednesday with $55,000 in federal and other funds.

That purse is aimed at a management plan for Quamichan’s eco-health.

Hart promises more action than talk and studies about the two biggest problems: toxic nutrients from runoff; plus Quamichan Creek debris and a beaver dam upsetting the balance between in-flow and out-go.

“Our management plan will also look at if it makes sense to aerate the lake to cut down on bacteria,” he said.

“You’ll see lots of action including volunteer work parties.”

While piping under the beaver dam allows outflow, work parties will likely yank more stream debris to boost the balance.

On Wednesday, MP Jean Crowder handed the committee $45,000 from the federal EcoAction Community Funding Plan. The Pacific Salmon Foundation added $10,000. The committee also has $7,500 in cash donations.

“The federal money will only come as we achieve various milestones during a process with our working group,” he said.

The committee wants hard answers about a suspected rise in run-off from Mount Tzouhalem where bush was cleared for the Cliffs Over Maple Bay golf-course project.

Stopping nutrient fouling of Quamichan may come from residents voluntarily reducing pesticide use, and replacing old septic tanks.

Hart also sees settling ponds filled with oyster shells at key places to filter out pollutants.

“We must get rid of nutrients that are the main reason the lake is eutrophic (oxygen starved, algae rich), and to stop the immediate runoff.”

Hart agreed making Quamichan an ecozone is a good idea but requires conservation covenants and public education.

“It’s not just the stuff going in now, but the stuff people have been putting in the lake for 60 or 70 years.”

Crowder believes the committee has folks pointed in the same direction to cure the lake.

“They’ve got a fairly detailed action plan with timelines in place, and they they’ve got funding to achieve those things,” she said.

“But if people living around the lake aren’t part of the solution, it isn’t going to work.”