On the sunny, crisp morning of Oct. 30, four volunteer divers entered Kootenay Lake at the Lakeside Park dock.
In two hours of scouring the floor of the lake near the bridge, they came up with a shopping cart, several bikes, a hobby horse, assorted plastic, and lots of scrap metal.
The divers worked with volunteers who lowered hooked ropes from two boats, then raised the underwater trash and carried it or towed it to a waiting dumpster at the dock.
Other volunteers walked the lake shore collecting trash.
“We do this to raise awareness that that the lake should not be a dumping ground,” said Jay Blackmore, one of the divers.
The third annual lake-floor cleanup was organized by Friends of Kootenay Lake Stewardship Society in partnership with the Kootenay Lake Sailing Association, the West Kootenay Boating Association, and the Kootenay Pedalwheelers.
“I spend a lot of time on the lake and always want to get back to the lake, so it’s rewarding,” said Blackmore. “These are great guys to dive with as well.”
This is the first time the group has dived by the bridge. In the two previous years they concentrated on the area around the Prestige Marina and the dog walk.
Kayla Tilapaugh, environmental program co-ordinator for Friends of Kootenay Lake and the main organizer of the event, says the oddest thing that has been found over the three years is “stacks and stacks of municipal license plates (from 1974) that are all in sequential order. That was a very strange.”
Tilapaugh said they have also found barbeques, bottles of acid, vintage dishes, and narcotics paraphernalia, as well as the usual shopping carts, clothing, cans, bottles and plastic.
“And lots of stuff that gets just blown off of docks or blown overboard,” said Blackmore. “So, boat windshields, awnings, dock chairs, fold-up camping chairs.”
Bruce Morrison, one of the volunteer divers, said that in a previous year he found a rifle at the bottom of the lake, which he turned in to the police, and an antique brass ship’s lamp “which now graces my living room.”
Tilapaugh said the event focuses the community’s attention on the health of the lake.
“This is just such a great and fun example of the community coming together,” she said. “All these different organizations and individuals, residents who just really love Kootenay Lake. They want to see it thrive and flourish.”