Before we get started with our witnesses, I want to recognize Mrs. Kelly Block the member from Carlton Trail—Eagle Creek, who is here today as a Conservative member. Welcome to the committee, it's good to see you.
Pursuant to Standing Order 108(2), we are studying aquatic invasive species.
Today, we have a number of witnesses for an extended meeting. From 3:30 to 5:00 p.m., we have the Alberta Irrigation Districts Association and Margo Jarvis Redelback by video conference. From the Canadian Council on Invasive Species, we have Bob McLean, strategic partnerships. From the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters, we have Matt DeMille, manager of fish and wildlife services, and Sophie Monfette, coordinator, invading species awareness program. From the Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities, we have Raymond Orb, president, by video conference. From the Shuswap Watershed Council, we have Paul Demenok, chair, and Erin Vieira, program manager.
Welcome to all our witnesses.
We'll start off with our presentations, which will be seven minutes or less. We'll start off with the video conference people and Margo Jarvis Redelback.
Good afternoon, and thank you for inviting me to speak to the committee today. My name is Margo Jarvis Redelback. I am the executive director of the Alberta Irrigation Districts Association. The association has represented the interests of Alberta's 13 irrigation districts since 1946.
My presentation today will focus on the threat and impact of aquatic invasive species to irrigated agriculture, specifically focusing on invasive mussel species. The Alberta irrigation industry has been involved in AIS prevention, eradication efforts and treatment option research for many years. Though these efforts have achieved some positive results, the risk of AIS to the irrigated region in Alberta is still great.
Municipal development and economic growth of this region are closely tied to the presence of the irrigation infrastructure. That infrastructure delivers water to about 1.4 million acres of agricultural land for food production. This is approximately 72% of Canada's irrigated land base. The infrastructure also conveys water to support the needs of 50 rural communities; industries, including value-added processing facilities; water-based recreation; wetlands; and wildlife habitat in this dry area of Alberta. The infrastructure is essentially critical infrastructure to this region.
The industry annually contributes $3.6 billion to Alberta's GDP and generates $1.26 billion in annual revenue to the governments of Canada and Alberta. It creates 56,000 full-time equivalent job positions across the entire province of Alberta. This is possible because of almost 8,000 kilometres of conveyance canals and buried water pipelines that, in combination with 57 storage reservoirs, reliably distribute water throughout the region.
To support increased water use efficiencies and to reduce water loss, 53% of this distribution system has been converted from above ground canals to underground pipelines, and 73% of the irrigated land base is now being irrigated by low-pressure drop tube pivot systems on the farm. This infrastructure is particularly vulnerable to invasive zebra and quagga mussels. Should mussels become established in the irrigation infrastructure, we expect disruption of water conveyance through our pipelines as well as significant ecological degradation of our irrigation reservoirs.
Currently, our industry has no approved chemical treatment options for invasive mussels. Potash appears to be the best candidate for chemical treatment, and the product is currently undergoing the lengthy approval process. We hope it will be approved but understand this could still be 12 to 18 months from occurring. It is our hope we will have this product available for use as a potential management option in case zebra and quagga mussels establish in our infrastructure. However, the product does not come without expense. Annual treatment costs of treating all irrigation district pipeline infrastructure with potash is estimated to be about $1.1 million. This value does not include the potential costs to treat irrigation reservoirs.
The most significant pathway of invasive mussel introduction into irrigation infrastructure is the transportation of contaminated watercraft across international and provincial borders into Alberta water bodies. Alberta irrigation has been collaborating with numerous organizations on AIS initiatives, including education and outreach campaigns, inspection and enforcement, monitoring activities and investigation of potential treatment options.
To date, the Alberta Irrigation Districts Association has contributed financial and in-kind resources of more than $250,000 toward AIS initiatives. Individual irrigation districts have also contributed significant financial and in-kind resources to AIS prevention activities over and above that delivered through the association. No federal funds have been received to support AIS prevention work in the irrigated region of Alberta. This is concerning as greater and more strategic activities are required to limit the spread of aquatic invasive species into and across Canada.
Suggestions on additional AIS efforts include more stringent and coordinated inspection and enforcement of trailered watercraft at the international boundary with inspection and decontamination activities conducted on site; mandatory decontamination of watercraft leaving Canadian water bodies infested with invasive mussels; additional funding programs and opportunities to maintain and grow current monitoring activities by assisting organizations in carrying out the field portion of monitoring; additional funding sources lending assistance to organizations to examine, develop and implement AIS management strategies; and, of course, streamlining the registration process for chemical treatment options to ensure more products are available if this type of treatment is necessary.
The ongoing efforts of the irrigation industry in Alberta and its collaborating partners have achieved some positive results here. Recognizing the risk of AIS establishment to its industry, particularly the establishment of invasive mussel species, the Alberta irrigation industry has taken a lead in prevention efforts. However, our province and our region require additional partnerships, most notably with the Government of Canada, to continue to strengthen attempts to prevent AIS establishment.
I'd like to thank the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans for this opportunity to comment on the committee's study of aquatic invasive species.
My name is Ray Orb. I am president of the Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities—known as SARM. Incorporated in 1905, SARM has been the voice of rural Saskatchewan for over 100 years. We represent all 296 rural municipalities and our RMs cover 53% of the province's land mass.
SARM has long been concerned about the threat of aquatic invasive species. We participate on a provincial aquatic invasive species task force and maintain contact with Saskatchewan's Ministry of Environment on the file.
SARM members are particularly concerned with invasive mussels, which attach themselves to hard surfaces such as boats, docks, motors, anchors, intake pipes and irrigation systems. Once invasive mussels are introduce to a water body, they are virtually impossible to eradicate. Prevention is the best defence against aquatic invasive species, but unfortunately invasive zebra and quagga mussels have been found in Ontario, Manitoba and in several neighbouring states in the United States. Saskatchewan is at serious risk of aquatic invasive species due to the natural connectively of water systems with neighbouring provinces and states, not to mention the influx of out-of-province boats that we see each summer as tourists, anglers, water skiers and wakeboarders flock to the pristine lakes in Saskatchewan.
Last year, the provincial Ministry of Environment conducted inspections on 2,922 watercraft entering or already travelling in the province. Fifty of these boats required decontamination and five had visible adult mussels on them. Without immediate action, it's only a matter of time before invasive mussels are established in Saskatchewan.
Not only do invasive mussels disrupt ecosystems, they also have a significant economic impact. Sandy beaches can be overtaken by sharp mussel shells and drinking water and hydro power infrastructure can become clogged as mussels attach and breed on any hard surface. Fisheries, aquaculture and tourism can all be damaged by the spread of AIS.
SaskPower has identified seven power generation facilities that are at high risk of damage from the introduction of AIS. These facilities account for 64% of SaskPower's generation capacity, which means that the introduction of invasive mussels would impact a significant portion of Saskatchewan residents and businesses. The cost implication is in the millions of dollars.
A special concern is the Lake Diefenbaker system and the Gardiner Dam power generation plant. The Lake Diefenbaker system provides clean drinking water to approximately 60% of the province's municipalities, currently provides water for 100,000 acres of irrigation that produces food crops, and generates enough electricity to power at least 100,000 homes. AIS in Lake Diefenbaker would be devastating and more needs to be done to prevent this from happening.
In Ontario, dealing with invasive mussels costs almost $100 million annually. Recognizing the implications of AIS, SARM members adopted two resolutions in calling on the provincial and federal government to lead the fight to prevent the spread of invasive mussels throughout our provincial water bodies by establishing checkpoints at all border crossings and decontaminating infested boats. This spring, the commissioner of the environment and sustainable development released a report on aquatic invasive species. The commissioner reported that it costs far less to prevent an AIS from entering an area than to control it afterwards. SARM wholeheartedly agrees.
We also understand that Fisheries and Oceans Canada leads the aquatic invasive species science program and aquatic invasive species national core program. These programs are intended to prevent the introduction of AIS, respond rapidly when they are detected, manage the spread of established species and work with other jurisdictions to ensure national consistency and collaboration on the issues related to managing AIS.
The commissioner's report found that both the DFO and the Canada Border Services Agency have not taken the appropriate steps required to prevent the spread of AIS, including zebra and quagga mussels. In addition, DFO has yet to determine which species and pathways pose the greatest threats or determine which species are the most important to regulate.
SARM believes that the federal government can do more to uphold its commitments under these programs. Too many Canadians remain unaware of the risks and of how they may be inadvertently contributing to the spread of AIS.
We are also concerned to hear that the aquatic invasive species regulations are not adequately enforced. More needs to be done to ensure that both DFO and CBSA officials are properly equipped to prevent AIS from entering Canada. It's also critical that these government agencies clearly understand their responsibilities as they pertain to AIS.
We understand that environmental protection and sustainability is an important priority for the federal government and we believe that protecting Canada's pristine water bodies against the threat of AIS needs to be considered an important piece of that puzzle. The environmental, social and economic impact of aquatic invasive species can be in the range of billions of dollars.
All levels of government have a role to play, but leadership from the federal government is of the utmost importance. It is imperative that we work together to prevent aquatic invasive species from entering our water systems.
On behalf of SARM, we thank the standing committee for the opportunity to lend our voice to this important conversation.
Thank you to the standing committee.
My name is Paul Demenok. I'm chair of the Shuswap Watershed Council, and with me is Erin Vieira, who is our program manager.
Thank you for the opportunity to provide our input to this program. We have some very significant concerns about potential new introductions of aquatic invasive species. Our concern is with two species in particular, namely zebra and quagga mussels.
Since our formation as a watershed council in 2014, we've been concerned about the threat that these mussels pose and the risks to our aquatic ecosystems and our regional economy. Preventing an invasion of these mussels in our area is of the utmost importance.
Zebra and quagga mussels have not been detected in British Columbia, but our waters are at great risk because of our proximity to infested waterways, the high volume of boat traffic and recreational tourism in and out of our watershed, and our water-quality conditions, which are ideal for zebra and quagga mussels to establish and thrive.
There is very much at stake. The Shuswap watershed has been described as the most socially, economically and ecologically important large-lake aquatic ecosystem in British Columbia. It is the drinking water source for tens of thousands of people. It's the centre of a thriving tourism community and an expanding residential and commercial property market, and it provides migration, spawning and juvenile rearing habitat for four species of Pacific salmon, including the world famous Adams River sockeye salmon. The Shuswap watershed is a tributary to the Fraser, a watershed that is also well known and of great significance.
The zebra mussel, in particular, is thought to be the most destructive aquatic invasive species ever to have invaded North American fresh water, and its impacts are well known. Costs associated with the maintenance requirements that would be imposed by an invasion in British Columbia are estimated to be $43 million per year. Additionally, the impacts suffered by Pacific salmon in the Shuswap watershed, and potentially downstream in the Fraser watershed, are not well understood or as yet estimated in these totals.
We are very gravely concerned about the risk of an invasion of these mussels to the Shuswap and to all of British Columbia, and are very dissatisfied by the measures taken to date to prevent new invasions in Canada. In light of our concern, last year our council spent $43,000 on invasive mussel prevention in the Shuswap watershed, derived from local tax revenues. This year, we will spend close to $46,000.
In 2017, DFO budgeted $43.8 million over five years to prevent and manage aquatic invasive species. Of that, 86% is allocated to just two species in Ontario, neither of which are invasive mussels. In August 2018, announced an additional $400,000, spread out over three years, for zebra and quagga mussel research, education and outreach. We believe that these are grossly disproportionate funding allocations, both geographically and by priority.
We feel very strongly that the department should invest much more to prevent further spread of invasive mussels. Federal funding ought to go toward collaboratively supporting the following three prevention strategies in British Columbia.
First is a contribution to the province's watercraft inspection program to enable the establishment of more inspection stations around B.C.'s perimeter and longer operating seasons and hours for the stations. B.C.'s borders ought to be better guarded from potentially contaminated incoming watercraft from both the United States and the rest of Canada.
We also need more robust measures to ensure that aircraft, such as float planes, coming into B.C. aren't contaminated with invasive mussels. To our knowledge, so far nothing has been done in this regard at all.
A contribution to the early detection monitoring programs to enable more water bodies to be regularly tested for invasive mussels is a third step.
In addition to supporting a stronger partnership with the Province of B.C. in preventing an invasion, the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans needs to take more action on containing mussel infestations and to fully enact the aquatic invasive species regulations of the federal Fisheries Act. One such measure ought to be that all watercraft leaving invasive mussel-infested jurisdictions be inspected and decontaminated as necessary, thereby closing primary pathways for new invasions.
A recently released audit report on AIS, from the commissioner of the environment and sustainable development, is consistent with our concerns about the lack of urgency and intervention by DFO. The audit found that DFO lacked a strategic approach to prevent AIS from entering and spreading within Canada. lt was also found that DFO and the Canada Border Services Agency did not adequately enforce the AIS regulations. It also found that DFO did not respond rapidly to known threats.
Our belief that the investment and actions by the federal government on invasive mussels have been inadequate and disproportionate, combined with recent findings of the audit report, leads us to conclude that the national aquatic invasive species program is not effective in protecting ecosystems in B.C., nor is it serving the socio-economic interests and values of British Columbians.
British Columbia, the home province of lake ecosystems of significant ecological and economic importance, is at risk of being invaded by the most impactful and devastating aquatic invasive species. When one considers all that is at risk in the Shuswap watershed and the rest of B.C., and the current likelihood of an invasion due to gaps in the preventative measures, one wonders why more is not being done. Prevention is a more sensible and responsible, and less costly, approach than trying to control it afterward. The old expression is an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
We are asking today that a larger proportion of federal investment and effort be directed to protect British Columbia from zebra and quagga mussels immediately.
Thank you very much for your consideration of our input. We hope that your committee can determine a more effective and prioritized method of distributing federal funds in an effort to prevent and manage aquatic invasive species.
Thank you, Chair, and thank you, committee, for the opportunity to be with you this afternoon as you study the issue of aquatic invasive species.
The Canadian Council on Invasive Species is a nationally registered non-governmental organization that works collaboratively across jurisdictional boundaries to share information and support actions to prevent the introduction of invasive species and to help reduce the threats and impacts from them. Our work is guided by a four-chamber board of directors whose members come from federal, provincial and territorial governments, indigenous organizations, and industry and invasive species organizations. We collaborate closely with the seven invasive species chapters across Canada. These are the provincial and territorial non-profit organizations that have a similar core mandate to the council's of helping to reduce the spread and impacts of invasive species.
The council's key focus is on prevention and, therefore, on closing the pathways that introduce and spread invasive species. We work to bridge government, industry and not-for-profit organizations, indigenous organizations and invasive species councils to take actions that address invasive species, both terrestrial and aquatic, actions such as the development and implementation of national campaigns that aim to change behaviour so as to prevent the spread of invasive species.
We would very much like to thank the standing committee for your study on aquatic invasive species. Your study is timely, as others have noted, in light of the commissioner of the environment and sustainable development's April 2 report on aquatic invasive species. In this regard, the council is pleased to see DFO's commitment to implement the commissioner's recommendations. It is important to recognize that there are many demands and potentially competing priorities with respect to aquatic invasive species, and the continued leadership of DFO is needed if we are to successfully address this issue in Canada.
I would also commend DFO on its work to date, such as its response to the threat of Asian carp introduction into the Great Lakes and on its efforts to work in partnership on aquatic invasive species initiatives, as success will not be achieved by any one organization acting alone.
You've already heard from a number of witnesses and there's much information with respect to the risk aquatic invasive species pose to our environment, our economy and social and cultural concerns. I won't provide additional information in that regard. Rather, I'll move directly to recommendations that the council has for your consideration.
First, we encourage collaborative Canada-wide prioritization and planning based on sound risk assessment and risk management strategies. This strategic planning is needed to ensure that all of Canada's waters are protected. DFO needs to—is encouraged to—implement a partnership-based approach to planning to identify the high-priority pathways and the most appropriate prevention tools.
As we have heard, preventing the introduction into Canada is going to be achieved by closing the pathways of introduction. Most success is going to be achieved by focusing on those pathways. We encourage DFO to complete a risk-based analysis of current and new high-risk pathways that provide entry of aquatic invasives into Canada. We believe this can be done quickly as we already know many if not most of those pathways. We believe a focus on high-risk pathways is a faster and potentially less costly approach to preventing arrivals into the country than a species-by-species assessment approach. We believe that the priority pathways approach needs to include risk management strategies and measures needed to close those pathways.
The third area of recommendations relates to early detection and rapid response. Recognizing and reporting invasive species when they first arrive and before they are established is the key to prevent establishment. Some witnesses have already spoken in this regard. Early detection depends on monitoring and detection systems, and it's important to recognize the role and contribution that citizen science can play.
Canadians watch. They're in nature. They can see and report on newly arrived species. Monitoring and citizen science programs need to be complemented by a common data platform, the means for Canadians to actually report on new invasive species or even current ones. We encourage DFO and others to address the issue and the need for a common data platform.
Part of early detection and rapid response needs to include those response strategies and the capacities needed to respond quickly. Those strategies need to outline the roles and responsibilities of different organizations whether they're federal, provincial and perhaps even non-government organizations.
The fourth area is with respect to containing and stopping the spread of established aquatic invasive species, and we've already heard many interventions, even this afternoon, with respect to the need to address the issue of invasive zebra and quagga mussels. Canadians care, and we believe it will help to prevent introduction if they're provided with the appropriate tools and resources. There is a need to increase education and awareness campaigns to change the behaviour of those target audiences, those folks who may actually move invasive species into new areas of the country.
The Canadian council is working with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans on a pilot program, “Clean Drain Dry”, based in British Columbia. This campaign focuses on changing behaviours and social marketing to influence those involved in boating and angling to take steps to clean their equipment to prevent spread.
The council is active in a number of similar other programs and is working with partners and industry involved in other key pathways. We're working with the pet industry and the Canadian Horticultural Council, for example.
The fifth area relates to strengthened collaboration. As I mentioned already, DFO alone cannot prevent the introduction and spread of invasive species. Those best placed to act need to act. It is critical that DFO work with its federal partners, particularly the Canada Border Services Agency and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, to close those ports of entry in the country. We also encourage DFO to work with Environment and Climate Change Canada on initiatives such as data platforms. Clearly, we are encouraging DFO to work with provincial and territorial governments and indigenous governments and organizations with respect to clear roles and responsibilities and priorities.
Finally, there is a need to increase collaboration with industry and other non-governmental organizations to bring more support for increased awareness and local action. An advantage of strengthened collaboration is that it not only builds the implementation partnership that's needed if we're going to effectively address aquatic invasive species, it can also help build what I would characterize as the funding partnership to ensure that the needed resources are in place to take those actions.
This leads to my sixth and final point. It relates to strategic investments. Addressing the challenge of aquatic invasive species will require not just ongoing, dedicated DFO resourcing but increased investment and collaboration. The magnitude of the challenge is great, and increased and strategic investments are what is needed. Shifting current resources among programs is likely to simply shift the problems and risks from one part of the country to another.
In closing, the council encourages continued, strong federal and national leadership on the part of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, if we are to protect our waters from aquatic invasive species. We encourage DFO to continue to build closer collaboration amongst government and non-government organizations on priorities, roles and responsibilities, and coordinated actions. The Canadian Council on Invasive Species, as a national voice on invasive species with a strong track record of building partnerships, is keen to support and partner with DFO and others to address aquatic invasive species.
Thank you again for the opportunity to contribute to your study.
Thank you. Good afternoon, Mr. Chair and members of the committee.
Thank you for the invitation to participate in this very important discussion. We are pleased to be here today to highlight the threats that aquatic invasive species, or AIS, continue to pose to Canada's environment, economy and society, as well as to recommend ways to better address this threat.
The Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters is the largest conservation-based organization in Ontario, representing 100,000 members, subscribers and supporters, and 740 affiliated conservation clubs. Our members enjoy various outdoor pursuits but share a common, passionate interest in sustaining our natural resources and the quality of life that healthy resources make possible.
Recognizing the impacts of invasive species and the role of outdoor enthusiasts in their introduction and spread, the OFAH initiated the invading species awareness program, or ISAP, in partnership with the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry. After 27 years, ISAP has grown into a large-scale, multi-faceted program with hundreds of partnerships, reaching 88 million people a year.
For over a decade, we have also worked in partnership with Fisheries and Oceans Canada to increase knowledge and awareness of AIS. Our current partnership with DFO is focused on supporting two of the four pillars of their Asian carp program. That is prevention via education and outreach and early warning via our provincial reporting tools: the invading species hotline, and the early detection and distribution mapping system, or EDDMapS Ontario.
This committee is studying whether DFO has the resources required to be effective in preventing and eliminating AIS, and whether resources are equitably and consistently distributed across Canada. These two issues are interconnected. The answer to the first question is no. Canada is not investing enough into the AIS program. Budget 2017 allocated $43.8 million over five years to prevent the introduction and spread of AIS, which was significantly less than DFO's identified needs.
The answer to the second question is sort of. DFO is attempting to target high-priority AIS with the limited budget they have. By necessity, DFO has been forced into making risk-based decisions regarding resource allocations, resulting in unequal distribution. While allocations may be unequal across the country, the investments could be considered equitable because they focus the limited available funding on Asian carp and sea lamprey, programs that require investment due to the significant level of risk these species pose to our environment, economy and society.
Even with more funding, Ontario and the Great Lakes must continue to be a focus of DFO's AIS program. Generally, Ontario has a higher risk of new invasive species entering and becoming established, compared with other regions in Canada. For example, Ontario is home to the most non-native freshwater fish, with 26 known species. This is 50% to 100% more than other provinces. Once established in Ontario, AIS pose a threat to the rest of Canada.
Even without being fully funded, the Asian carp program is an excellent example of how we can invest in prevention to mitigate risk and impacts. To date, we seem to be getting this one right. And I say “we” because DFO has facilitated a significant amount of collaboration with stakeholders like the OFAH to leverage the resources, decades of experience and considerable networks we have available to deliver the Asian carp program. Even modest investments can go a lot further when using these types of partnerships.
Preventing harmful introductions before they occur is the most effective means to avoid or minimize risk, and strong investment in education and outreach is required. Should prevention fail, early detection is recognized as a critical pillar of Canada's strategy to prevent the spread and establishment of AIS in our waters.
The timing of detection is vital to the overall cost and success of any efforts to control or eradicate a new introduction. This is why reporting and real-time tracking tools are so important. The independent auditor's report recommended DFO develop or coordinate a national database or platform that would allow DFO and stakeholders to track and share information about species detections and spread. There is currently no coordinated national effort for this.
However, there is existing capacity in Ontario that can be used to help deliver on this recommendation. Right now, Ontario has the capacity for early detection and rapid response through the delivery of the invading species hotline and EDDMapS Ontario, and it works very well. For example, a grass carp was reported through the invading species hotline in 2016, resulting in DFO staff capturing 10 grass carp in Lake Gibson. That was the largest capture of any of the Asian carps in Canadian waters to date.
There is no need to create something new. We recommend that efforts be focused on expanding this existing capacity, as it will be the most timely and cost-effective way to achieve positive outcomes.
Invasive species know no boundaries. They are a complex issue, affecting every province and territory and crossing international boundaries. Each jurisdiction will have different perspectives and priorities for response, but there is consensus that AIS will continue to impact Canada's environment, economy and society in such a dramatic way that there is an immediate need to build Canada's capacity to respond.
What is missing is investment, investment on a scale that will make a difference for national AIS priorities, investment on a scale that enables partners to translate national leadership from DFO into effective provincial and territorial programs, and investment on a scale that does not compromise existing and successful programs like the Asian carp program.
There will always be finite resources to fight invasive species, so we need to ensure that our efforts are coordinated to minimize duplication and inefficiencies. Stakeholders like the OFAH and its members have a key role in the prevention, detection and management of invasive species, and we can leverage significant amounts of knowledge, experience and resources to help address national AIS priorities.
To summarize, we have four specific recommendations for the committee.
Additional funding is needed for DFO to be effective in preventing and eliminating AIS and to increase DFO's capacity to deliver on the recommendations made in the independent auditor's report.
Federal AIS programs must remain targeted on species, pathways and jurisdictions with the greatest risk, and allocation of new resources should be determined based on risk, not to meet regional equability targets. They can't be arbitrary.
With national leadership and investment from DFO, there is an opportunity for existing provincial or territorial programs to grow and connect to meet the needs of Canada as a whole.
Finally, stakeholders such as the OFAH with our unique connections, including fishing and hunting federations in each province and territory, and an audience of boaters, trail users, anglers and hunters, are partners committed to working with the Government of Canada to combat AIS.
Thank you for your time today. Sophie Monfette, the coordinator for the invading species awareness program, has joined me today. We are happy to answer any questions you may have about AIS, or how the OFAH is involved in the fight against invasive species.
Thanks to all the witnesses for joining us today.
Mr. DeMille, I'd like to start with you. One of the things that I've learned as we've undertaken this study is the fact that there is limited funding, obviously, for AIS in Canada, so we're thinking strategically about how that would look going forward in order to improve prevention. I think that it's pretty obvious that prevention is better than dealing with an issue once it actually presents itself regarding an invasive species.
It seems to me that a number of the witnesses are saying that the Asian carp situation, which you described as being handled pretty well and which actually has been fairly effective, is disproportionately taking away funding from other AIS priorities, including ensuring that there is prevention for, for example, zebra mussels' finding their way out west.
It just seems to me that if we're using a lot of the budget or a disproportionate amount of the budget for AIS to deal with an urgent issue that comes up because it wasn't prevented—in the case of Asian carp finding their way into the Great Lakes—maybe there's a different way that these things should be funded, where you have a budget prioritized for ongoing, long-term preventative measures and then a different pot that should be available for dealing with one-off situations when they do present themselves, like Asian carp.
Would you agree with that assessment of the way that this has found its way into the budget items?
We'll get started again on the next portion of our session for today.
We have witnesses in person, we have witnesses by video conference and a witness by teleconference.
We have here in person, from the Canadian Electricity Association, Mr. David Stanley, senior environmental specialist, Ontario Power Generation, as well as Michael Powell, director of government relations. Welcome. From the Miramichi Salmon Association Incorporated, we have Mr. Mark Hambrook, president. It's good to see you again, sir.
By video conference, from New Brunswick Invasive Species Council, we have Paula Noel, volunteer member. From the Rural Municipalities of Alberta, we have Al Kemmere, president. By teleconference, from the Central Kootenay Invasive Species Society, we have Erin Bates, executive director.
We'll start off with Ms. Bates.
In case we get a problem with the connection, we'll at least try to get to hear your testimony. When you're ready, you have seven minutes or less, please.
Thank you so much for having me today.
The Central Kootenay Invasive Species Society is a regional invasive species organization in the interior of British Columbia. We have a mission to protect ecosystems and communities by preventing and reducing the harmful impacts of invasive species. We work in the Central Kootenay region where we collaborate with many different landowners and stakeholders to deliver outreach, prevention and management programs.
Since 2012, CKISS—which is our acronym, and I'm going to use it instead of our full name—has taken a strong regional role in coordinated AIS programs, including coordinating the Canadian Columbia basin regional aquatic invasive species program and participating on the 100th Meridian Initiative Columbia River basin team.
Aquatic invasive species—or AIS, as I'm going to call them—such as zebra and quagga mussels cause a wide range of economic, environmental and social harm, and this has been well documented. The potential economic impact of zebra and quagga mussels—or ZQM as we tend to refer to them—to hydro power, agricultural irrigation, municipal water supplies and recreational boating in B.C. has been estimated at $43 million per year.
Aquatic invasive species such as ZQM have been implicated in vast reductions or outright extinction of indigenous fish populations where they have become established. ZQM infestations are apparently permanent and irreversible, and no method, technology or natural predator exists to remove the invasive mussels once they've been established in a water body.
Unfortunately, zebra and quagga mussels are steadily spreading westward from their original introduction in eastern North America with the most recent infestation found in Montana in 2016. The Government of Montana estimates that direct mitigation costs and revenue lost to affected stakeholders will be $234 million per year, and that includes agriculture, hydro power, drinking water, recreation and property values.
The risk of AIS introductions, especially ZQM, to British Columbian waters is escalating rapidly, primarily due to human-caused factors that include water-based recreation and travel. Invasive mussel-fouled watercraft—watercraft that have been found to have veligers, basically zebra or quagga mussel eggs on them—have been found destined for B.C. waters since 2011. Between 2015 and 2018, the B.C. invasive mussel defence program's watercraft inspection stations intercepted 82 watercraft that were fouled with invasive mussels. It only takes one watercraft transporting live mussels to cause permanent, biological pollution in a water body, so the fact that any contaminated watercraft has been destined to launch within B.C. emphasizes the importance of an extensive and comprehension zebra and quagga mussel prevention program.
The threat of ZQM establishment in Central Kootenay is very great, as all the water bodies in the Columbia basin have been assigned a high to very high risk status for the survival and subsequent invasion of zebra and quagga mussels. We believe that invasive mussels are the number one threat to our region and to B.C., and not enough is being done to protect our resources. As far as we know, there isn't a lot of action currently by the Canadian government.
This is an emergency situation. Provincial governments in western Canada, including B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan and the Yukon, have begun to take a coordinated approach. They've developed the invasive mussel prevention framework for western Canada. While this has led to increased monitoring and inspections, without involvement from the federal government, it's most likely still a matter of when, and not if, we might get invasive mussels in B.C. We really need federal support and action on the ground along with effectively enforced regulations to keep invasive mussels out of our province.
We would like to see more action by the federal government as follows.
We strongly feel that the Canada Border Services Agency should be inspecting all watercraft entering Canada from the United States at ground entry ports with best current practices. The agency should also be conducting full decontamination of any invasive mussel-fouled watercraft before they're permitted to enter into Canada.
We would love to see more active participation on and support in international and interprovincial working groups and programs, including the 100th Meridian Initiative.
We would also love to see long-term, sustainable federal funding to support prevention, monitoring, education and outreach efforts.
On behalf of the CKISS, we thank you very much for this opportunity to provide input and for your time.
First of all, thank you to the honourable members for this opportunity.
As you say, I'm representing the New Brunswick Invasive Species Council today. We are a volunteer-run group that formed in 2009, with support from the invasive alien species partnership program. This was a federal program that built capacity in the province to address invasive species.
Since the end of this program in 2012, there hasn't been funding available for coordinating activities on invasive species in New Brunswick. We do have aquatic invasive species already present in the province, and there are many poised to invade from nearby jurisdictions.
In New Brunswick, we have been lucky that there hasn't yet been a big disaster associated with invasive species in our freshwater systems. We do know that this is just a matter of time. With the recent introduction of the invasive aquatic plant, Eurasian water milfoil, we believe we are on the precipice of a dramatic ecosystem impact in the Saint John River system.
Eurasian water milfoil, which can grow so quickly it's called the zombie plant, can completely fill water bodies, to the point where no other plants or fish can use the habitat, and boats are unable to pass through the mat of plants. However, since Eurasian water milfoil was found in the watershed in 2017, there has been virtually no response to this introduction. There have been no attempts to contain, eradicate or even educate boaters using these waterways on how they can help to prevent spreading this species faster within the Saint John River watershed, or to other waterways in the province, by cleaning plant material off boats and trailers.
Introductions can be prevented by engaging citizens and giving them the equipment and tools they need to clean, drain and dry their boats and equipment. The New Brunswick Invasive Species Council, in partnership with the Canadian Council on Invasive Species, has applied for funding to roll out a program to do just that. We hope to be able to start filling that gap. We were happy to see that recent granting programs announced under the Canada Nature Fund recognized invasive species as a priority threat to address. However, the primary focus of these funds is to work on species at risk.
This puts government staff in the challenging position of evaluating proposals to work directly on species at risk against proposals to prevent invasive species that may not have been found yet. Understandably, the species-at-risk work typically wins out. It is just human nature to care more about something that's right in front of us than something that might be in the future.
We believe that unless there is separate, dedicated funding to prevent and respond rapidly to invasive species, we are going to continue to see this pattern that we have now, virtually throughout the country, of responding after an invasion has happened and been let go long enough that it's having serious ecological and economic impacts.
The recent Auditor General report confirmed the importance of restricting and closing high-risk pathways. We believe governments can't do this alone. We need to work with people in communities and give them the knowledge and tools they need to prevent spread. Many of these species are unintentionally moved around on boats and equipment by people who don't understand the potential damage they are doing.
We would like to see leadership from DFO. We need clarity on roles and responsibilities between federal government departments, and between DFO and the province.
In the case of the containment of smallmouth bass to Miramichi Lake, which has been ongoing for 10 years now, local salmon groups and indigenous groups have had to step into a leadership role and invest tens of thousands of dollars into research, to make a case for eradication of this species.
If zebra and quagga mussels were to be discovered in New Brunswick tomorrow, I am not confident that there would be any plan in place to respond, despite what we know about the serious impacts these species have and how important it is to act quickly if we want to have a chance of eradicating them before they spread.
Aquatic invasive species regulations that were reduced in 2015 prohibit unauthorized introduction of aquatic species where they are non-indigenous. What is lacking in those regulations, however, is the ability of conservation officers to lay charges when naturalized invasive species are moved around within a province. If someone were to take smallmouth bass from the Saint John River watershed and move that fish into the Miramichi basin, there is currently nothing that conservation officers could do about that.
Finally, enforcement is not just about compliance with laws and regulations, but also about educating and engaging Canadians. Invasions are usually spotted first by informed and alert citizens.
It's far cheaper to prevent than to manage invasive species after they've been introduced. We need to protect New Brunswick's aquatic habitat.
We can never be aware of all risks. Even with the best science there will always be the unexpected. Focusing on pathways to prevent introductions is the best investment in engaging Canadians and restricting pathways, and engaging Canadians in spotting new invasives. When invasives that we know have had major impacts in other regions of the country are spotted, we need to have rapid response plans in place with funding to execute them. We need local groups to be able to engage Canadians in their communities.
Invasive species councils across the country like the one in New Brunswick need to be supported to implement proven tools like the national pathways programs that the Canadian Council on Invasive Species is developing. We need a national database where Canadians can report invasive species when they find them.
Education and outreach will be the best investment and will save the high cost of dealing with invasions after the fact.
I thank you all for looking into this important issue.
Thank you and good afternoon, everybody. It's great to see you gathering together to try to get a good understanding of our perspective on this.
I am Al Kemmere. I'm a councillor in Mountain View County and president of the Rural Municipalities of Alberta. For those of you who don't know Alberta very well, Mountain View County is dead centre in the middle of the province. RMA or Rural Municipalities of Alberta covers the whole province—north to south, east to west, touching the Northwest Territories and down to the American border. Under the jurisdiction of our members, we cover about 85% of the provincial land mass. That includes 75% of Alberta's roads and 60% of Alberta's bridges.
I think we're all gathered here to talk about the situation of the aquatic invasive species and the different types that it covers. Aquatic invasive species is an issue that impacts communities throughout Canada. Though we recognize the impact of the problem, the species of concern are diverse and vary right across the various regions of the province. In Alberta, a number of species are of considerable concern, including fish, invertebrates, plants and diseases.
We are hearing from our members and from the Government of Alberta that the species of greatest concern are the two types of mussels: the quagga and the zebra mussels. These mussels are of significant concern for our municipalities. First, they can harm municipally owned and operated assets that serve a community interest. These mussels can attach themselves to infrastructure such as water pipes, irrigation pipes and other underwater structures. They will virtually choke them down to the point of non-productive value.
Anecdotally, we have heard from other municipalities in Canada that have had to spend millions of dollars on their water plants to combat these species. We want to do what we can to avoid those costs. For most municipalities in Alberta, this would be an unbearable cost and it would cause severe harm to their ongoing sustainability. The maintenance cost alone is projected to be $75 million per year to protect or replace the infrastructure that is threatened by the species.
A second point of concern in rural municipalities is that many of our municipalities are home to irrigation. I do have to pat the irrigation sector on the back. They're doing tremendous work to try to mitigate the amount of seepage and evaporation that takes place in their systems by putting pipelines in the ground to transmit their water. However, if we do not do something, these infrastructure pieces that they've put in will be choked down similarly and it will limit the access of irrigation water. It will also limit the access of municipalities to the water that is coming through that system.
The second concern for municipalities regards the impact to the natural ecosystem. While I'm not a scientist, the information brought to me is that these can have significant impacts on the health of the water bodies. These species will go through and eliminate the plankton and all the nutrients in lakes. It would result in algae blooms, which would impact the viability of the fish population within them. These impacts change how people in our communities use their water bodies for both recreation and tourism.
In Alberta, there are 52 prohibited species of plants, fish and diseases listed in the Fisheries Act, including the black, brown and yellow bullhead catfish, goldfish, whirling disease and the Asian tapeworm, to name a few. Other plants, like the flowering rush, are gradually taking over a lot of our lowlands and wetlands as they progress.
In Alberta, in part due to the advocacy of municipalities, our provincial government has established an aquatic invasive species program. To their credit, the government of Alberta program and the public information campaign have been well received—much better than we initially thought. Although it could always be bolstered with additional resources and capacity, there has been a strong response to the complex problem. The Alberta provincial program to combat aquatic invasive species focuses on all aquatic invasive plants, fish and invertebrates.
Given the potential economic impact of the spread of aquatic invasive species in Canada and Alberta, we must make sure that the response is at a national level, as this is such a significant task and we're all linked together. We must do what we can to protect all our water bodies.
This will require a national strategy. It's a strategy that should include prevention, eradication, cross-boundary collaboration and coordination so that we work on this together, province to province, countrywide and also with our neighbours to the south.
In regard to prevention, RMA has passed a resolution advocating a zero-tolerance policy on aquatic invasive species. This starts with a public awareness campaign that is targeted to commercial, industrial and recreational water users as well as being broadly presented to members of the public.
Mandatory inspection sites are also important. They must be strategically located at key points of entry and must make it impossible, or at the very least, very difficult, to bypass the stations. While we have had those stations in my province, they are not based in the most ideal places. This means drivers are going around these stations and avoiding the inspections.
We must also have a plan for the distribution, or guidelines for the allowing, of dumping of aquarium-type fish within our systems. This often seems to be at the root of some of our problems. Outside fish ponds need to be regulated so that we do not expose our drainage systems or our water systems to invasion by these species.
Without a good eradication, in cases where species have been identified, there must be a rapid response that focuses on eradication of that species in the water body and ongoing monitoring to ensure it doesn't emerge. I am not an expert on the tools for that, so I will leave it to you to understand that allowing any tolerances is not acceptable when it comes to identifying these species
Last, it is important that all provinces, territories and the federal government work together in a coordinated approach. Provincial programs, such as those in Alberta, are proving to be effective but they would be greatly aided by a coordinated response with other provincial and nationwide programs.
We recently submitted a letter to this committee regarding this cause. There is more detail provided in that letter. I thank you for allowing us to do that.
I want to thank the committee for putting its time and energy into this issue. It is not a small issue. It does take a good forward-looking approach to make sure we can do something to limit the invasion and to protect our water bodies. Thank you for that.
I am Mike Powell. We are sharing our time today. Dave Stanley is joining me. He's a fisheries scientist with Ontario Power Generation.
Sustainability is a central focus of Canada's electricity sector. We think about it broadly, from emissions to watershed management and beyond.
Canada benefits from a natural clean power advantage. The Canadian electricity sector has reduced its GHG emissions by over 30% since 2005. Already, more than 80% of electricity in Canada is produced in non-emitting ways. Sixty per cent of this comes from hydroelectric power.
Hydro power produces virtually no greenhouse gases and its abundance in Canada makes our electricity system one of the cleanest and most renewable in the world. It's also exceptionally reliable and easily dispatched. It can and must play a central role in continuing to achieve Canada's climate change targets and to decarbonize other sectors.
Electrification of other sectors is necessary for moving toward a low-carbon economy. To have the electricity we will need to do this, expansion of hydro power and other clean energy sources will be essential. Therefore, we must make sure that our current and future systems are not jeopardized by external threats, such as aquatic invasive species. I'll also be saying “AIS” to solve the mouthful.
There are more than 400 hydro power-generating facilities in Canada. Most facilities were built decades ago without protection mechanisms in mind that would help limit the spread of invasive species, like zebra and quagga mussels. Invasive species also present maintenance challenges to other types of facilities as well, including nuclear and gas plants, and as we've heard, really any facility that has pipes in water.
I'll turn things over now to Dave, who can provide an operator's perspective on these matters.
Hello, Mr. Chair and committee members. Thank you for having me today.
My name is Dave Stanley. I'm a senior environmental scientist with Ontario Power Generation.
OPG has a fleet of 66 hydro stations that can generate almost 7,500 megawatts of electricity. Further, not only are OPG's hydro power facilities impacted by AIS, but the challenges extend to other facilities such as our nuclear stations. As Mike alluded to, all water operators in the Great Lakes are highly impacted by the spread of AIS such as sea lamprey, round goby, the Asian carp and most famously, dreissenids like the zebra and quagga mussels.
This impact affects power generators like OPG and other utilities, municipal water intakes and industrial users. These invasive species add significant maintenance costs to OPG's operations and pose a safety issue for maintenance workers who are responsible for their removal and for retrofitting control measures on facilities. If left unchecked, AIS also pose significant risks to safety systems such as those for fire control.
No hydroelectric facilities currently in operation were built to handle the clogging of dreissenid mussels. Clogging typically occurs in the secondary water systems such as turbine cooling systems or fire water systems. OPG spends millions of dollars annually to manage this issue at six hydro stations and two nuclear stations, and management is the key word here. OPG is currently not holding out any hope that the spread of these species will be completely reversed. Instead, we look to control these species, to minimize their harm to the environment and our operations.
Control measures for dreissenids typically include the release of deleterious substances such as sodium hypochlorite into the waters to kill the invasive species. Unfortunately, despite industry's best efforts to reduce the use of biocides and limit their harm, they can damage aquatic environments and native species. That's why funding for further studies that explore safer and more environmentally friendly control alternatives is essential.
OPG has been a leader in using alternative control measures for dreissenids, but as they spread further across Canada, DFO needs to not only fund preventative measures but invest in alternative controls. Until cost-effective alternative measures are developed, DFO needs to allow for the use of biocides to control these species. As per DFO's interpretation of deleterious substances for the control of AIS in 2016, the use of chlorine is permitted by provincial and federal agencies to control these species, and this has to be continued.
Now on a good note, hydro plants can also help control AIS. Our industry also plays a role because occasionally hydro power producers must dewater the intakes or other water courses for repairs. In this process the operator drains the water course, relocates native species to alternative locations and disposes of the AIS humanely. The practice can significantly reduce the number of invasive species in local areas.
Hydro dams and water control structures also passively control AIS. Many AIS species such as lamprey, round goby and dreissenids cannot jump or are weak swimmers. If they can't migrate upstream of hydro facilities or water control dams, the facilities have an ancillary benefit of controlling the spread of AIS at no additional cost.
Further, where AIS are present downstream of a hydro dam, fish passage should not be required to further help prevent the upstream movement of AIS.
I'll turn it back over to Michael.
As the committee considers this matter, we're offering a number of recommendations. There is a role for the federal government to play.
First, the government should lead studies on how to stop the spread or manage existing populations of aquatic invasive species in the least environmentally damaging way.
Secondly, government should provide equitable funding for all regions of Canada as invasive species have no boundaries, and the best control measure is to preclude their spread. Given that many AIS have yet to make their way into western provinces, funding should be allocated in these regions to help limit the potential spread, and monitoring programs should be funded so that they may be caught early should it arise. Facility retrofits can be part of this solution.
Thirdly, governments should maintain the ability to utilize biocides to reduce the spread of invasive species and ensure that all federal and provincial regulations are aligned and consistent in this matter.
Lastly, governments should strengthen awareness, enforcement and monitoring of threat factors such as shipping, personal watercraft and others to reduce the likelihood of new aquatic invasive species arriving or spreading in Canadian waters.
Thank you. We look forward to whatever questions you might have.
Thanks for inviting me here again.
I'd like to talk about a specific example of invasive species, small mouth bass in Miramichi Lake in the province of New Brunswick. We've been working on this file for 10 years.
I should say, first of all, that the Miramichi historically has the highest run of Atlantic salmon in North America. Over the years it has been assaulted by low sea survival, other predators—striped bass being one—and the growing seal population along our coast, to the point that whereas there used to be a 10% survival of young salmon going to the ocean who would come back as adults, now we're down to 2% or so. It's really affecting our communities, our rivers—and not only in the Miramichi but in all of eastern Canada.
Ten years ago, when we discovered smallmouth bass as an invasive species in our watershed, we all panicked. What can we do? We responded right away, put a barricade in at the mouth of Miramichi Lake and started searching for an action plan.
We consulted with the North American expert, a chap in California who basically gave us a blueprint of what to do. It involved applying rotenone, which is a compound derived from a root in South America. It will kill fish but not other species. When we went to DFO, they said no, sorry, this is illegal, and we said this can't be true because they're doing it every year in Quebec and in British Columbia and Alberta. Everywhere uses rotenone. Unfortunately the Maritimes had never signed an agreement with Ottawa for a shared jurisdiction and, therefore, it was illegal for use in our province. Regulations were therefore changed.
In the meantime, we were lobbying pretty hard for the rotenone application, and DFO came up with a plan. They said we will eradicate in three years by electrofishing. We'll put barricades in, we'll gillnet, we'll use spike nets—we'll use everything at our disposal to eradicate. Three years, it will take.
It's 10 years later and we still have juveniles, adults, and there is evidence now that maybe the fish are getting out of Miramichi Lake. It's from eDNA, which I don't know too much about and am not sure is very reliable. There seems to be an indication, however, that there may be some trickling out of this lake.
It has been 10 years, and now the legislation is passed and DFO has the authority to issue a licence for rotenone. We, therefore, went to DFO—and by the way, we commissioned the study at the Canadian Rivers Institute by this now retired expert from California, and we have a clear, legal, sound plan to eradicate smallmouth bass.
We presented it to DFO, who said, no, it can't be a proponent. It will be the regulator but someone else will have to take the lead. Our group thus formed, and we have our North Shore Micmac District Council as the leader of this now.
We've put an application in. It will be reviewed. It will probably take a year or so to look at it. There's no funding, by the way, for this. It will cost about a million dollars to eradicate, but the salmon sport fishing industry on the Miramichi is a $20 million a year industry, and it's going to be in jeopardy because once the invaders get into the system, they're just going to keep multiplying.
The irony is that this was an illegal introduction. If I run a bulldozer down the stream, I'm going to jail. They can enforce that, but put an invasive species in a waterway, which will change it forever, and we can't even lay a charge.
That, then is a difficulty. We need enforcement and we need a champion instead of a regulator. We need regulators too, but we also need to have a few champions. That's where DFO has to come to the forefront and say, yes, we have a problem here, and we're going to help you address it.
They don't have to do it. We'll be a proponent but we need help, not hindrance. That's the case in Miramichi Lake.
Thank you to all the panel for being here on this very important study.
I'll start with you, of course, Mr. Hambrook. We've known each other for a while, and we're living in the same region of Miramichi. Of course, as you have seen in the last couple of weeks, the striped bass seem to be in a very healthy state at this time. We see all the boats there. They're catching a bunch of striped bass. Although they're not an invasive species, the problem is that the population has kind of exploded, and they do affect the salmon.
I'd like to go back to the smallmouth bass, which is an invasive species. They're not directly in the river, as we know, although there is some evidence, as you say, Mr. Hambrook, that they might be. What kind of damage would an escape and an establishment in the river do? You've been on the river a long time. To your mind, how much damage could that cause?
Thank you to all of the witnesses, even the ones we can't see on the video conference. It's always a challenge, I'm sure, listening in and not being able to see what's taking place.
Mr. Hambrook, I certainly appreciate your frustrations. The invasive species bug bit me about 20 years ago when our local fish and game club identified that someone had planted perch into our small trout lakes. They put the perch in there to feed smallmouth bass, but the perch multiplied to such an extent that they basically wiped out the insect life and the bird life on this small lake that was about 90 hectares, I think. The people in the community noted that. It was a disaster, but we persevered. After seven years of letter writing and meetings and pushing, we got that lake and nine others in the Shuswap area treated with rotenone. One of the treatments was half a million dollars just to treat one area.
Don't give up on it, because the perch multiplied to a point where they would only reach three and a half inches long, but they were fully sexually mature and reproduced. We held derbies—not derbies but family fishing days—to educate people.
We thought we were covering all the bases, and the day after one of our family ice fishing days, someone spotted perch in another trophy trout lake in a channel between two lakes. It turns out that one family took another family's kids on this fishing day and sent them home with some perch. The parents didn't know what to do with it, so they took the perch and dumped the bag of them into the other lake because they didn't want to kill them.
Education, education, education and prevention are huge parts of this. That's why I put this motion forward to do this study.
I'm going to quickly switch to Mr. Kemmere for some questions now.
What would the estimated loss be to agricultural production in some of the agricultural lands that are irrigated through these systems if there was a loss of the irrigation?
I did not do the study, so I can't speak at this moment to how that was calculated, but I can certainly speak to some of the impacts and where those costs come from. A few of the other witnesses have mentioned the impacts to hydro power. One of the impacts of zebra and quagga mussels is called biofouling, where they basically cover hard surfaces within the water body that they're infesting. They seem to really gravitate towards nice pipes and hydro power-type facilities.
The cost associated with the management of that is basically trying to keep your facility cleared enough to function while these veligers and quagga mussels are trying to establish on a continuous basis. There are large costs there. I'm certain that the Ontario hydro people could speak to that in more detail.
For agricultural irrigation, it comes from having your piping systems compromised. The maintenance involved with having to clear out your whole piping system on an annual basis adds up extremely quickly, especially when you have expensive agriculture systems in place.
For municipal water supplies, it's the same across the board for all of these sorts of economic human costs. You know you're going to get zebra and quagga mussels on your municipal water intake and treatment systems, and the cost for the municipalities to maintain those systems is going to increase exponentially once we get infestations.
The cost for recreational boating is mainly tourism dollars. Once the lake becomes infested, it's certainly pretty well known that it becomes less of a target destination for tourism. People tend to not come to those lakes as much. Tourism is certainly a large segment of the economy in our region, and for good reason. These lakes are gorgeous.
Chair, last time I asked for the extra hour today, and it would be unreasonable for me to ask for more time, but I'm wondering if we can ask our staff here at the committee to maybe reach out.... There's one more element of this that I think we need to think through.
Some fisheries-enhancement hatcheries across Canada will rely on groundwater for their source to run their hatcheries, but many actually depend on natural water sources. If you take a look at the intricacies of hatcheries, and all the things they do, from germination to the rearing ponds, and so on, if they were to actually have to deal with quagga mussels.... Many are community-based hatcheries and wouldn't have the wherewithal or resources to even continue.
This would be a direct threat to salmonid enhancement and other fisheries enhancement. Could we reach out to some of these hatcheries, hatchery organizations or even the department, to talk about what DFO's plans are in its hatcheries, as well as DFO-funded, sponsored or partnership hatcheries, to see the effect of quagga or zebra mussels, or any other aquatic invasive species that might infiltrate the hatchery program? We have millions of dollars of infrastructure set up in hatcheries and we produce millions of fish every year, and this could also be at risk.
I don't think the committee has adequately heard from these organizations as to what the impact might be.