Water in the Colquitz River system turned brown Thursday, May 2 following a spill of warm, sediment-rich water. (Submitted)

Spill into Saanich’s Colquitz River could kill future salmon runs

Students releasing Coho fry observed the effects of the spill

A local environmental advocate fears a recent spill of warm, sediment-rich water into the Colquitz River system could lead to the failure of future salmon runs.

Ian Bruce, executive director of the Peninsula Streams Society, expressed this fear after he and others witnessed the river turn “chocolate brown” on Thursday, May 2. Students from Royal Oak middle school were releasing Coho fry into the river at the Wilkinson Road and Lindsay Avenue when the level of the river suddenly rose four inches in height, said Bruce, whose organization hosted the students.

READ ALSO: McKenzie Interchange pump failure sends contaminated water into Colquitz River

“The clear, slow moving water became chocolate brown with sediment, and began rushing by,” he said. Its temperature rose from 10.8 degree Celsius to 18.5 degree Celsius, while the level of dissolved oxygen dropped by more than half, he added.

After calling authorities, Bruce and others then followed the river to discover that the water had entered the Colquitz River through Viaduct Creek, an upstream tributary, that runs near the Horticultural Centre of the Pacific (HCP).

“At the site where the man-made lake behind [HCP] enters Viaduct Creek, we found evidence of beaver dam removal from the weir and overflow spillways with lots of sediment and the water from the lake rushing into the creek, then into the Colquitz River via Quick Bottom wetland.”

Bruce expects the incident will have immediate and long-term impacts. Immediate impacts of the spill include the potential death or definite impairment of Coho fry and [smolt] Cutthroat eggs and juveniles, and aquatic insects on which salmon juveniles rely for their food, said Bruce. “Longer term impacts could include failure of future runs,” he added.

READ ALSO: Peninsula Streams given $10K towards restored Colquitz watershed

The timing of the incident could not have been worse or more instructive.

“We had just asked the Grade 6-7 [students releasing the fry] about what a stream needs to be healthy,” he said. “[Clear], oxygenated water was their answer just before this bad water appeared.”

Thursday’s incident adds another line to a long list of incidents involving spills into the river, which the Peninsula Streams Society and others have sought to restore as a salmon-bearing river.

Bruce said Salmons already face so many threats that are not easily controlled, including climate change, not to have preventable incidents like this to happen.

The Saanich News has reached out to HCP and the ministry of environment for comment.


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

wolfgang.depner@saanichnews.com

Just Posted

Child hit and killed in driveway in Cobble Hill

The driver of the vehicle remained at the crash scene and is fully cooperating

Campers hailed heroes in rock face rescue at Cowichan Provincial Park

The campers quickly noticed the man in distress and jumped into the river to swim across.

Mid-Island tracking toward driest June on record

Predictions for rain this week could bring temporary relief

Overpass, barrier, more parking considered for Cathedral Grove

Provincial government proceeding ‘with caution’

‘Danger Cat’ in medically-induced coma after serious dirt bike incident

GoFundMe campaign raised more than $3,000 for Campbell River man by Monday afternoon

VIDEO: Killer whale steals fisherman’s catch off North Coast

Fishing duel results in eager orca snagging salmon in Prince Rupert

Home gutted in fire deemed ‘suspicious’ by authorities in Campbell River

No injuries reported; firefighters prevented blaze from spreading

Team effort rescues injured mountain biker in Cumberland

Comox Valley Ground Search and Rescue, the Cumberland Fire Department and BC… Continue reading

West Shore RCMP bust drug lab after fire caused by production of cannabis shatter

View Royal lab near parks and children’s playgrounds, evidence of children in home

Island Health issues safer drug-use tips ahead of music festival season

Health authority aims to reduce overdose risks at festivals

Man appealing conviction for drive-by shooting attempt in Nanaimo

Armaan Singh Chandi was sentenced to nine years in jail in B.C. Supreme Court last month

Sailing cancellations as Baynes Sound Connector set to undergo maintenance

Denman Island ferry out of service Wednesday night

Eating sandwiches, putting on makeup behind the wheel could land you a fine

RCMP say if you cause an accident while eating you could be penalized

Cat badly hurt in animal trap was likely stuck for days, B.C. owner says

Blu, a three-year-old house cat, suffered severe damage to his hind leg after being stuck in trap for days

Most Read