The recent mega-floods have brought an opportunity to rectify one of the problems that has long plagued salmon runs in the Lower Fraser Valley. Hundreds of miles of outdated flood protection infrastructure has been chopping fish up when they return home to spawn. Now much of it will have to be repaired or replaced. The Watershed Watch Salmon Society sees this as the opportunity to install ‘fish friendly’ flood infrastructure in its place.
Lina Azeez Connected Waters Campaign Manager with the Watershed Watch Salmon Society, said this problem can also be found in Vancouver Island communities like Campbell River, the Comox Valley and Greater Victoria.
“The scales are quite different, but the issue is similar. They also have a lot of barriers to fish passage, a lot of the waterways on these rivers are also dikes. So definitely this is an issue that’s not just in the Lower Mainland, it’s on Vancouver Island as well. But the reason we have decided to focus on the Fraser river is because it’s one of the biggest salmon rivers in the world,” she said. ”If we are able to change the way we manage for floods in the Lower Mainland, that will have positive repercussions for all watersheds across BC.”
Fisheries and Oceans Canada will spend $647 million to help salmon stocks recover, which could be negated if they also decide to spend “billions of dollars on the same old flood control systems that continue to kill salmon.”
The Watershed Watch has identified 1,500 km of ‘fish killing’ dikes, pumps and flood protection infrastructure in the Lower Fraser Valley.
Azeez pointed out that, “modern, fish-friendly pumps are now available.”
She said they are already being installed south of the border, in Washington state.
Top photo credit: Meghan Rooney from the Watershed Watch assessing the function of a flood gate – Photo by Collette Rooney