Blue-Green Algae Bloom at Prior Lake

On July 3, 2020, the Capital Regional District (CRD) advised, in consultation with Island Health, that there is a blue-green algae bloom at Prior Lake.

Blue-green algae can produce cyanotoxins. Visitors are advised to avoid swimming in the lake and to keep animals on a leash to prevent them from drinking or swimming in the lake until the advisory has been lifted.

Read the alert issued by the CRD. Please visit www.crd.bc.ca/alerts and Twitter @crd_bc for updates on the status of the algae bloom.

For further information please contact CRD Regional Parks at 250-478-3344.

To learn more about blue-green algae visit these sites:

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

Maintaining Healthy Water at Prior Lake

Now that swimming season is in full swing, we suggest that lake-goers be mindful that human activities can have an impact on the water quality of our small lake. There have already been reports of blue-green algae appearing in the lake — which is earlier than it appeared last year. It would be helpful if everyone does their part to minimize the likelihood of another full-blown blue-green algae bloom from occurring this year.

University research has shown that urinating in a lake by humans is known to change the lake chemistry and contribute to toxic algae blooms. Urine can also be harmful to fish and other wildlife, particularly when unmetabolized pharmaceuticals are excreted into the water. When nature calls, it is worthwhile to take the small added time and effort to cover up and use the portable toilet up the path.

Additionally, “A growing sheaf of studies shows that the tiniest components that are added to sunscreen to block harmful ultraviolet rays — nanoparticles of titanium dioxide, copper oxide, zinc oxide and cerium oxide, so tiny it takes 100,000 of them to make up the width of human hair — pose grave risks to small aquatic organisms.” (Source)

In keeping with the naturist philosophy of “going natural”, please consider that the products we put on our bodies are released into the lake water when swimming, and can therefore potentially impact water quality and the lake ecosystem. Even “natural” oils introduce substances that are unnatural to lake environments, and leave a film on the lake surface that can reduce the ability of the lake to breathe and function naturally.

We understand the importance of using skincare products that offer protection from the harmful rays of the sun, and are simply suggesting to use a little forethought in the amount, type and way it is used. Making well-informed decisions can help to maintain the natural healthy balance of the lake water, and also ensure naturism continues at Prior Lake for ourselves and future generations.

William and Danny
PLNPC Representatives

Requests to Lake-Goers by CRD Parks

Hello fellow naturists

We continue to liaise with CRD Parks on a number of current happenings. In addition, they have asked us to comply with the following:

  1. A letter to us from CRD Parks states: “please ask your members to remove all of the rolls of carpets and chairs at the end of their visit.” Carpeting, in addition to being unhygienic, contains toxic chemicals that could leach into the lake, and are not appropriate to bring into the park. Please note that any household effects left overnight in the vicinity of the lake will be subject to removal by CRD Parks.
  2. CRD Parks is concerned with damage to the environment caused by the use of areas that have been clearly signed as “Area Closed to Restore Vegetation” in the vicinity of Prior Lake. Please respect and abide by CRD Parks’ request “to only use the authorized trail that leads down to the lake from the parking lot.” All other areas of the park near Prior Lake, in particular the rock bluff immediately behind the dock, are closed to the public, as they are environmentally sensitive and easily damaged by human activity. Many of these trespassers are not from our group, but in support of naturist values, we should be expected to do our part to maintain the integrity of the park’s ecosystem.

Compliance with requests that CRD Parks makes from time to time is important in maintaining a mutually respectful and cooperative relationship with CRD Parks. We are guests of the park, and just as people do in any other public environment, we need to be mindful of conducting ourselves in ways that ensure our continued presence is welcomed in this unique and special naturist enclave.

We encourage everyone to spread the word about these requests to other lake-goers, as not everyone has signed up for our PLNPC posts.

Thank you,
William and Danny
PLNPC Representatives

Prior Lake Weather ☀ 🌤 🌦 🌧

With lake season fast approaching, are you wondering what the weather is like at Prior Lake? We have just added The Weather Network’s beach report for Prior Lake to the menu/sidebar of the PLNPC website. This report includes lots of handy info, including the current temperature and weather conditions, weather forecast, UV index, probability of precipitation, pollen count, etc. The Weather Network also acknowledges Prior Lake as a clothing-optional beach. Check it out and consider adding the beach report to your Internet bookmarks (in addition to ours) for easy future reference.

In Memoriam: Vincent

Vincent, a regular lake-goer for most of his life, passed away on November 20, 2017 at the age of 88. He exemplified the naturist philosophy of having a strong spiritual connection with the natural surroundings, which he expressed skillfully through his insightful poems about the lake and dock. These poems have enhanced the Prior Lake The Bare Facts newsletter, and more recently, this PLNPC website. Vincent was known for his reassuring baritone voice, gentlemanly demeanour, and his big green Cadillac convertible. He always set up a lawn chair on the same corner of the dock and treasured deeply-satisfying extended swims in the lake. He was the great-grandson of J.D. Pemberton, surveyor-general of the Colony of Vancouver Island, and became an astute real estate investor. Business success did not change Vincent’s approach to others. He stayed humble and down to earth, and regarded everyone as an equal, consistently treating all he met with respect and dignity. There will be a graveside service for Vincent on Friday, December 1 at 1:00 pm at Ross Bay Cemetery.

Urgent: Concerns Requiring Your Immediate Attention

CRD Parks management has recently contacted us and raised two important and potentially serious concerns that need to be addressed.

First, we were very surprised and disturbed to learn that parks staff have been threatened at the lake to the point that some no longer feel safe in providing services to Prior Lake. We find it difficult to imagine that anyone from our group would behave in such a way. If you know of any recent incidents, please contact us using our PLNPC email address and provide us with the details. Obviously, we need to deal with this matter and do what we can to ensure this unacceptable behaviour does not happen again.

Additionally, whenever you have a lake-related comment, suggestion or issue, please email these to your representatives William and Danny, rather than contacting CRD Parks directly. This is the professional way of dealing with things, and often the point has already been discussed and dealt with. CRD Parks has a huge park system and does not have the staff resources to deal with a myriad of requests from individuals.

Second, park management believes that new sand has been added to the small beach at the lake, and cited sections of provincial and regional legislation that prohibit this. We believe that only dredging from the lakebed has occurred, and we have asked for direction on whether this is allowed. If you are aware of anyone bringing sand to the lake, we need to know about it, as testing has determined that this is harmful to the lake ecosystem.

We would also like to point out that several individual lake-goers have recently taken upon themselves to make “improvements” to the lake without the permission of CRD Parks. Please respect that ALL maintenance and improvements must be approved by park management and completed by the unionized staff of CRD Parks. Again, if you have any suggested changes, please send an email to the PLNPC rather than dealing with it yourself without permission or asking CRD Parks directly.

We have included a new section for our website on “PLNPC and naturist roles” that we strongly encourage everyone to read. It includes additional background on what is provided here.

Obviously, either one of the issues raised to us by CRD Parks management has the potential to put our continued enjoyment of Prior Lake for naturist use in jeopardy. So, we hope that everyone will do what they can to spread the word out to other lake-goers of the concerns that have been brought forward. We thank you for your cooperation and assistance, and will keep you posted on any new happenings.

Best wishes, William and Danny

New CRD Clean Air Bylaw in Effect at Prior Lake

Lake-goers should be aware of a new CRD bylaw that recently took effect. We have therefore amended our Courtesy and Conduct Guidelines, as follows:

Smoking. As of April 1, 2015, Capital Regional District Clean Air Bylaw No. 1, 2014 [Section 2(1)(a)] bans all forms of smoking in parks, apart from within a private vehicle. Section 6(1) provides for fines of up to $2,000 for each contravention of this bylaw. Please abide by this health regulation out of respect for the health impacts on others from exposure to second hand tobacco smoke. Additionally, cigarette butts are not biodegradable, and are environmental toxins known to harm fish and other wildlife. They can also be a fire hazard.

In Memoriam: Daryl

We are saddened to announce that Daryl W, a long time Prior Lake regular, has passed away. In recent years, Daryl had moved to Vancouver with his wife Barb. A Celebration of Life for Daryl’s family and friends will be held on Saturday, November 1 between 4:00 & 7:00 pm at the James Bay Community Centre, 140 Oswego Street.