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Sewage kokanee could draw tourists

December 15, 1988

Raising fish in Kelowna’s sewage effluent could help the city’s tourism industry, said Mayor Jim Stuart Wednesday.
“We want to get to the point where we can raise fish the tourists can keep (instead of catch and release),” Stuart told a news conference while officially announcing the city’s latest fish-rearing venture.

“It’s an excellent demonstration of the degree to which we treat our effluent. If it’s going to enhance fishing in the Valley, then that’s a payoff.”

About 15,000 rainbow trout will be raised to .75-pound size in treated effluent from the city’s Bardenpho sewage plant over the next 10 months. They will be prime fishing size when transferred to catch-and-release lakes in Okanagan high country, said Chris Bull, head of the Okanagan fisheries section of the Ministry of the Environment.

Kelowna is breaking new ground with its third fish-rearing project, said Bull, adding he knows of no other city in North America which is raising fish in sewage effluent ponds.

The 1988 batch of about 8,000 kokanee salmon were recently moved to Baker Lake in Okanagan Mountain Park. The lakes to receive next year’s rainbow trout have not yet been named, but will be marked indicating the source of the fish, said Bull. In that way, fisheries experts will be able to gauge the public’s acceptance of the fish.

Kokanee raised in sewage effluent were tested for over 75 different elements including heavy metals and came up with virtually the same results as fish raised in fresh water, said Bull. Health officials say it is not dangerous to consume the fish.