Cranes needed to launch rototillers into Okanagan Lake due to low water levels

Lake level's milfoil impact

Rototillers hitting Okanagan Lake for the season this week had to be lifted into the water with cranes due to low lake levels.

The machines remove invasive milfoil from popular swimming areas by pulling it up by the roots.

A report to the Okanagan Basin Water Board this week said all the organization’s rototillers will be in the lake by November 1.

“We anticipate increased crane rental costs compared to normal years as the lake levels require us to hire cranes to launch the equipment, rather than using boat launches,” said the OBWB report.

“The lake level will also limit whether we can de-root in very shallow areas, although, if these areas freeze or are scoured by wave action, the milfoil there may also be killed by those conditions.”

Okanagan Lake is currently at 341.5 metres above sea level, roughly 40 centimetres below the same time last year. That puts current water levels at the very bottom of the historical range, OBWB says.

You can track the level of Okanagan Lake on Castanet here.

Lake watchers are hopeful La Nina conditions will bring a wetter-than-normal winter this year, allowing Okanagan and Kalamalka to recover from the summer’s drought.

The manager of the Penticton dam and Okanagan Lake levels, Shaun Reimer, told Castanet earlier this year “a really big thunderstorm” adds about a centimetre worth of water to the lake.

Winter snowpacks are what will determine if the lake will refill to normal levels in the spring.

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