Members of a website and Facebook page dedicated to the improvement of Hatzic Lake were particularly concerned this week after two sturgeon were found floating dead in the lake.
Photos of the sturgeon were posted Tuesday and then on Thursday– just days after Fraser Health announced it had closed the lake to swimmers after being notified about several concerning incidents.
Reports of algae “blooms,” discoloured water and dead fish were forwarded to the health agency by the Fraser Valley Regional District (FVRD).
The FVRD website indicated that some residents posted “symptoms of nausea, stomach cramps, itchy skin and eye irritation after swimming and participating in other recreational water activities on the lake.”
The agency announced on July 31 that it was closing the lake to swimmers.
Authorities are still conducting tests and trying to determine the exact cause of the issues.
“What’s next – the eagles (we have dozens here)? The osprey? The kingfishers? The huge beautiful otter I saw swim past me yesterday?” posted member Brent Hall.
Sturgeon are the largest and longest-living freshwater fish species in North America, growing up to six metres in length and living up to 100 years.
They are protected under the Species at Risk Act and may only be fished on a catch-and-release basis along the lower and middle portions of the Fraser River.
The Hatzic Lake Improvement Group is called for urgent action to determine what is causing the issues at the lake.
Hall said that tests have so far indicated a high level of phosphorous and nitrogen.
“This generally tends to mean pollution … and usually runoff from farm activity,” he said.
Hall surmises that the pollution is due to either “unsafe and dangerous farming practices or a polluter who has intentionally disposed of their chemicals into the creek.”
Hall said residents should demand “immediate action” to determine the source of the pollution and to receive information and solutions.
Anyone found responsible should be charged with a crime and penalized severely, he said.
Severe penalties should be put in place and enforced so that a situation like this never happens again, Hall said.
Hatzic Lake is located on the north side of the Fraser River, and shares a boundary with the District of Mission and FVRD’s electoral area F.