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Kelowna  

Are mussels feds' priority?

The Okanagan Basin Water Board is fed up with a lack of action from the federal government about invasive mussel prevention.

The OBWB said they didn't get a response from the feds after a meeting last June on the matter, and this week they sent a follow-up letter to address the “urgent need for federal action" on mussel prevention.

"We have had no follow up communication, or commitment, on how they would contain the mussels in regions already infested and prevent them from spreading to Western Canada,” Tracy Gray said, OBWB chair and Kelowna city councillor, who added the agency is "disheartened."

The federal government is dishing out $43.8 million in the next five years to deal with aquatic invasive species.

In a face-to-face meeting last June, the OBWB said they asked the feds for a piece of that pie in order to keep zebra and quagga mussels out of B.C.'s waterways.

The invasive mussels, commonly picked up by boats, were discovered in the Great Lakes in the 1980s. In the past five years they have been discovered closer west — in Montana and Manitoba.

The OBWB believes the mussels could cost them about $42 million annually, and said if the species reached the region there would be "irreparable ecological damage in the Okanagan."

Gray is hoping the feds create a comprehensive strategy to protect B.C.'s waters, and said the issue is "non-partisan" in nature.

In September, a pair of Okanagan MPs wrote a letter to several federal ministers asking for similar action to protect the province's waterways.



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