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

VIDEO: Saanich resident shocked when trespasser licks security camera, rummages through mail

‘I found the situation really bizarre,’ said the Gordon Head resident

BC Ferries crew member taken to hospital after getting struck by bow doors

Two sailings between Horseshoe Bay and Departure Bay were cancelled

Bulk or boxed candy? Trick-or-treat maps help Canadian families prepare for Halloween

Census Mapper uses 2016 census data to predict busiest neighbourhoods

Black Press Media celebrates women who are making a difference

Helping others is the cornerstone of the work Shannon Drew does in… Continue reading

Goldstream Food Bank on the search to fill Christmas Hampers with toys

Volunteers are looking for new toys for infants to 11-year-olds

VIDEO: Explosion, fire sends woman running from Saanich home

Heavy smoke in the area, crews on scene

Jack’s Devils beat Quinn’s Canucks 1-0 in NHL brother battle

New Jersey youngster scores first career goal against Vancouver

Two charged after owner’s wild ride through Kamloops in his stolen truck

Crystal Rae Dorrington, 37, and Derrick Ronald Pearson, 32, facing multiple charges

Judge orders credit union’s bank records for Kelowna social worker facing theft allegations

The man is accused of negligence, breach of contract, fraud and a conspiracy with Interior Savings

Leaders pour it on with rallies, boosts for candidates as campaign reaches peak

The federal election campaign has reached a crescendo

Allegations of racism lead to ministry investigation at Vancouver private school

St. George’s School was contacted over what the school describes as ‘deeply offensive behaviour online’

Not a political question: Thunberg calls for climate action in Alberta

Edmonton police estimated the size of the crowd at about 4,000

Zantac, the over-the-counter heartburn drug, pulled in Canada, U.S.

Health Canada also investigates possible carcinogen in some ranitidine drugs

B.C. public safety minister says cannabis edibles not in stores til January

Mike Farnworth says he wants regional issues considered when it comes to licensing

Most Read