Long-awaited oxygenator to treat toxic algae coming to Elk and Beaver lakes

The B.C. government says a new oxygenation system is coming to Elk and Beaver lakes in Saanich, which will help manage the lakes' toxic algae blooms.

The parks, which have long suffered from regular toxic blue-green algae blooms, attract more than 1.5 million visitors each year, according to the province.

The algae, which can be harmful to both humans and pets, will now be managed by the oxygenator. The $750,000 system will not only improve the water quality of Elk and Beaver lakes, but will also help with the health of lakes and habitats downstream, according to the province.

The CRD has been calling for an oxygenator at Elk and Beaver Lakes for years.

In 2020, CRD board chair Colin Plant told CTV News that "we as a region have become too accustomed to hearing that these lakes are closed and they don’t have to be closed, we can fix this."

Now, Plant is celebrating the announcement of the new oxygenator.

"This, in combination with watershed management, can help protect this ecosystem and ensure it continues to be a beloved recreation spot for generations to come," he said in a release Tuesday.

The province says it will also be stocking the lake with more fish due to its popularity as a local fishing spot.

"These lakes are a part of our community, and this effort will help make these waters clean, safe and enjoyable for everyone," said Lana Popham, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries and MLA for Saanich South on Tuesday.

"We are working to ensure there is safe, year-round access to everyone from local families and freshwater fishers, to triathletes and rowers – now and for generations to come," she said.

Moving forward, the CRD will be responsible for maintaining the system and for any upkeep costs.

The province did not announce when the oxygenator would be installed Tuesday.