By Lethbridge Herald on May 22, 2020.
Submitted by Alberta Irrigation Districts Association
The coming of the spring season means many individuals will soon be able to enjoy water-based activities like fishing and boating on Alberta’s lakes and irrigation reservoirs. Given the public health challenges individuals have been experiencing over the last several months many people will be looking forward to these types of activities.
Alberta’s rivers, lakes and irrigation reservoirs are still under threat from aquatic invasive species (AIS). These non-native animals and plants pose great threats to native animals and plants, water quality, industry and local economies. Invasive species are difficult to eradicate and control once introduced. Alberta’s waterbodies are most at risk from species such as Zebra and Quagga Mussels, Eurasian Water Milfoil, and Flowering Rush.
All watercraft owners have a part to play in preventing aquatic invasive species from being introduced into Alberta waterbodies and a number of activities can be followed to reduce the risk of transporting aquatic invasive species into Alberta waterbodies.
First, clean, drain and dry your watercraft. This includes motorized and non-motorized watercraft such as kayaks and canoes. Start by ensuring you pull the drain plug of watercraft that is being transported. Provincial legislation mandates this activity and failure to do so will result in a hefty fine. Before leaving any boat launch site, remove standing water from all internal compartments as well as any vegetation or mud present on the trailer or watercraft. Do not forget to clean and dry all fishing equipment and water sports equipment, such as tubes, wakeboards, etc.
Secondly, respect the provincial watercraft inspection program. If you have transported your watercraft outside of Alberta and are re-entering the province; if you are transporting new watercraft into the province or are transporting watercraft through the province, you are required to stop at a provincial inspection station and have the watercraft inspected. Provincial inspection stations are located throughout the province on major highway transportation corridors. Provincially trained inspectors are responsible for examining your watercraft for evidence of prohibited species and performing a decontamination if deemed necessary. More information on what to expect during an inspection can be found on the Government of Alberta website by searching “watercraft inspections.”
In some areas of the province, including southern Alberta’s irrigated region, boat launch operators are supporting provincial prevention and inspection activities by making sure high-risk watercraft do not launch unless cleared to do so through a provincial inspection.
In response to the provincial health emergency declared due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the provincial AIS inspection team is putting in place personal distancing protocols to ensure the safety of AIS inspectors and watercraft owners during the upcoming summer season. These protocols will be in place when six provincial AIS inspection stations open in the coming weeks. Please remember to respect these protocols.
Watercraft owners having further questions on watercraft inspections or aquatic invasive species can call 1-855-336-BOAT (2628).
Following all regulations and guidelines on aquatic invasive species will protect Alberta’s waterbodies and ensure their continued enjoyment and use for Alberta residents and visitors.
The Alberta Irrigation Districts Association (AIDA) represents Alberta’s 13 irrigation districts on matters of shared interest.