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

Sooke school district creates new comprehensive school health position

Ruchi McArthur will develop framework to improve wellness of students

B.C. police watchdog investigating high-speed crash in Victoria

Police watchdog called in after dramatic early morning crash at Bay and Douglas intersection

VIDEO: RCMP officer killed in the line of duty remembered ‘through the laughter of children’

Sarah Beckett Memorial Playground opens with ceremony in Langford

Westhills Stadium launches expanded stadium with ceremony, excitement

expanded stadium accommodates 6,000 spectators

NCAA basketball comes to UVic this fall

Eight-team tournament features top university women’s basketball teams Nov. 28-30

Trudeau to meet with U.K. and Japanese prime ministers ahead of G7 summit

French President Emmanuel Macron, this year’s G7 host, has little expectations of a unified front from the leaders

B.C. man who died after rescuing swimmer was known for helping others

Shaun Nugent described as a dad, a coach, a hero and stand-up guy at celebration of life

B.C. RCMP plane chases fleeing helicopter as part of major cross-border drug bust

The helicopter eventually landed at a rural property near Chilliwack

Vancouver Island man dead after reported hit-and-run incident

Oceanside RCMP seek public’s help gathering information

Thousands cycle to conquer cancer

The 11th annual Ride to Conquer Cancer took place Saturday morning, Aug. 24 in Surrey, B.C.

PHOTOS: Brazil military begins operations to fight Amazon fires

Amazon fires have become a global issue, escalating tensions between Brazil and European countries

Racist confrontation in Richmond parking lot caught on camera

Woman can be heard yelling racial slurs, swear words at woman in apparent parking dispute

Groups ready campaign to help young voters identify ‘fake news’ in election

The media literacy campaign to focus on identifying misinformation and suspicious sources online

Big rally in northern B.C. draws attention to continuing lumber crisis

Mayor Joan Atkinson says about 400 workers have been directly affected by the closure of the Canfor mill

Most Read