Fish need water

Letters

I’d like to congratulate the Juan de Fuca Salmon Restoration Society for completing their interpretive centre and putting on an awesome event on B.C. Rivers Day. The individual efforts to plan, fund-raise for, and build this community asset were tremendous, and the society deserves ongoing local support to maximize the centre’s educational potential.

Equally exciting is the “water-for-fish” side of the story on Charters River, involving efforts by the society, Capital Regional District, Department of Fisheries and Oceans, T’Sou-ke First Nation, Ministry of Environment and Living Rivers-Georgia Basin/Vancouver Island.

Few people know that virtually all of the summer flow in Charters River had for decades been provided by leakage from the old Sooke water supply pipeline.  With the recent CRD supply line replacement project, Charters would have dried each summer, devastating the system’s stream-rearing coho and trout populations – not a pretty picture next to a salmon interpretive centre.

An innovative, partnered solution was required. Working together since 2009, the partners above used funding from CRD, Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation and Pacific Salmon Foundation to pay for a $100,000 plumbing “fix” earlier this year, which now allows a small part of the Sooke water supply to be diverted to the top end of Charters River, where it feeds the entire stream and ecosystem and supports thousands of coho and trout juveniles. This project would not have happened without the efforts of many passionate individuals, T’Sou-ke elders and director Hicks in particular.  It is an example of “healthy watersheds and sustainable fish populations through shared responsibility, stewardship and wise use of water” – the vision of Living Rivers-GB/VI, and we’re proud to have worked with these partners to achieve this on-the-ground success.

We believe this template – regional districts and local governments factoring fish populations (and the water they need) into their domestic supply solutions – is not only prudent and long overdue, but required given the pressures of development and forecasted impacts of climate change on south coast B.C. streams. If your readers agree, they should urge their MLAs to support and renew cost-effective conservation initiatives like BC Living Rivers.

James Craig

Project Manager, Living Rivers-Georgia Basin/Vancouver Island

BC Conservation Foundation

Nanaimo

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