Watershed Wanderings

The Lake Windermere Ambassadors can be contacted at [email protected] or call the office at (250) 341-6898.

Understanding how to minimize your impact while enjoying recreation on the lake benefits not only you but all users of the lake – including people, birds, fish and wildlife. Each lake has unique physical, ecological and chemical features with differing recreational capacities and will respond differently to various stressors. For example, Lake Windermere has a soft sediment bottom and is a slow widening of the Columbia River with an average depth of only three to four metres. 

Did you know that type of boat and speed influences wake size? Some powerboats can disturb lake bottoms up to six metres deep and a downward propeller wash can stir up lake beds (especially soft bottom lakes like Lake Windermere). Studies show that boat wakes in shallow waters can reintroduce previously settled phosphorus, nutrients and heavy metals back into the water column, and can increase turbidity. This can have a negative effect on drinking water and overall water quality while increasing the likelihood of algae blooms. Studies have also shown that propellers can rip up sensitive aquatic vegetation in shallow areas, affect native mussel habitat, and disrupt spawning beds and fish populations.

Boat wakes not only disturb lake bottoms but also impact shorelines. These transition zones, where the land meets the water, are unique and often highly productive ecosystems. High wave energy from boat wakes can cause an increase in the rate of erosion of these shorelines, swamp shore bird nesting sites, and damage human infrastructures such as retaining walls, homes and docks. Lake Windermere sees thousands of boaters each year, and all this impact adds up!

Here are a few simple ways boaters can help to reduce these impacts on our lake:

• If you are travelling within 30 metres of the shore, a slower speed can help reduce the impact that the wake creates.

• If you are travelling in areas less than six metres in depth, going at a slower speed can help to reduce sediment resuspension. In Lake Windermere, there is a small area where the depth reaches around six metres. A depth map can be found on our website. If you are needing to travel at faster speeds, consider using this stretch of the lake.

• If boating at faster speeds, travel in straight lines up and down the middle of the lake and avoid going in circles, this helps to create more room for other boats in the deeper section of the lake.

• If you wish to be anchored or stationary, please avoid doing so in the deepest area on the lake, allowing for others wishing to travel at faster speeds the space to do so.

• Pay attention to your depth reader (if your boat is equipped with one).

• Learn more about how you can protect your lake on our website.

We are grateful to our generous sponsors and funders who support our work. For further information on our sources or to learn more about the work we do and how you can help, please visit our website at www.lakeambassadors.ca.