Sand at Prior Lake

Long time lake-goers will remember that CRD Parks used to bring washed sand down to our tiny shoreline each summer, but that practice was discontinued in recent years. Since enquiries are made about sand each year, we would like to outline the background to the decision that was made by CRD Parks to discontinue bringing sand some years ago. The addition of sand at Prior Lake has been examined by various individuals at the park management level, and we have been told by both our previous CRD Parks contact and our current contact that fresh sand will no longer be brought down to the lake, and they are very definite about adhering to this decision.

Here is a quote from a letter we received from CRD Parks management in 2016:

Regarding the importing of beach sand to Prior Lake, I recognize that in the past sand was brought into the lake subsequent to obtaining proper permits from the Ministry of Environment. I have researched why Regional Parks stopped bringing sand into the site several years ago and it appears it was because there were concerns that the practice could result in negative impacts to the small lake’s ecosystem. Due to Prior Lake’s size anything we introduce to the lake can have a large impact on the lake’s water quality. On small lakes, eutrophication is a very real threat to the lake’s overall health. When you add materials such as beach sand to the surrounding land area, the winter rains tend to flush a lot of that material into the lake. With this increase in nutrients entering the lake plant growth tends to increase, and death of animal life may occur from lack of oxygen. Essentially the lake ecosystem will die the more nutrients we add to it. … If any of your members notice anyone dumping sand or other materials please have them contact the CRD Bylaw Enforcement Services office immediately as this action violates CRD Bylaw No. 4225 Section 7.1 H and Section 17 of the Provincial Water Sustainability Act.

As it turns out, CRD Parks has had timely foresight. Even without imported sand, this and last year’s blue-green algae blooms are clear evidence of deteriorating water quality at Prior Lake (the eutrophication referred to above) — both environmentally and for its suitability for recreation. This is why we must be proactive in trying to minimize the environmental impact of all types of human activity on the lake, especially avoiding swimming after having applied chemicals such as sunscreens and oils to our bodies. If we want to both swim and use sunscreen, it would reduce our impact on the lake if we swim first, then apply sunscreen afterward to avoid it washing off in the water. The effects of these foreign substances on the natural environment are cumulative, and the lake needs an opportunity to recover to a more balanced, natural state.

As is becoming clearly evident on a world scale, it is all too easy to disregard the impacts of our normal daily activities on the local environment until either drastic action is needed, or it is too late for a recovery. Now more than ever, Prior Lake deserves the utmost of respect and preservation in its natural state, just as we wish for ourselves as individuals. Please remember that the lake, dock and beach area are shared resources, and not one’s backyard wherein we can do whatever we wish for our own personal use and enjoyment. We need to consider our impact on the environment in all that we do while visiting Prior Lake, and collaborate and work together toward the common goal of limiting ourselves to sustainable practices at this unique and very special naturist paradise.

William and Danny
PLNPC Representatives