What's sauce for the goose....

What if we all played by the rules multi-billion dollar international industry players envision for themselves?

In August and September this year Kinder Morgan began covering spawning grounds that their proposed pipeline route intersects with plastic snow fence in an effort to prevent spawning where the company later want to dewater streams and trench across.

spawning deterrent photo courtesy of Dogwood
Plastic snow fence in Swift Creek.
Click for larger image.

Snow fence is unproven as a spawning deterrent, but the company expects that by covering spawning gravel with plastic fence they will later be allowed to dry and trench those stream locations during parts of the year when eggs and larvae of salmon and trout could be expected to be in the gravel.

A quick look at the definitions of "construction" in either the NEB certificate or the B.C. environmental certificate for the pipeline project is all it takes to see that Kinder Morgan were out of line in terms of process, never mind ecological values. Pre-construction conditions have not been fulfilled and the route of the pipeline has not been approved. What's more, the company did not apply for authorizations for instream work under the B.C. Water Sustainability Act or hold a permit for it under the Oil and Gas Activities Act. The NEB ordered Kinder Morgan to stop the installations, but they allowed the company to keep the ones already done. The B.C. Environmental Assessment Office (B.C. EAO) is investigating. In documents on the B.C. EAO website is a letter in which the company claims that no authorizations from any level of government are needed for turning spawning beds to non-spawning areas with plastic fence.

Some of WaterWealth's work is done in streams. Of course when there may be eggs or larvae in the gravel we keep our feet out. In an email yesterday to Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development (responsible for administration of the Water Sustainability Act) and CCed to the B.C. EAO, WaterWealth imagines "What if we could work in streams any time we want, like Kinder Morgan expect to?"

from:    Ian Stephen
to:    FrontCounterBC@gov.bc.ca
cc:    Nathan.braun@gov.bc.ca
date:    Wed, Nov 15, 2017 at 8:33 PM
Subject: Use of spawning deterrents

FrontCounter BC (cc Nathan Braun, BC EAO)

The WaterWealth Project is a community group based in Chilliwack, BC that engages in a variety of programs relating to community engagement in connection to fresh water, and protection of fresh water.

One of our programs is stream keeping. We use protocols of the Pacific Streamkeepers Federation and engage volunteers and community members of all ages. A very popular activity is demonstration of freshwater invertebrates. Invertebrates are placed in a pan of water from the stream and individual specimens may be looked at by participants using a magnifying glass or microscope before being returned to the stream. It is a popular activity with children and parents alike and provides an excellent opportunity to teach about the important role of invertebrates in freshwater systems. Of course we cannot conduct that activity year-round because at times there may be fish eggs or larvae in streams so we don't want to be walking in the streams during those times or poking around for invertebrates.

I note in a letter dated 27 October 2017 from Scott Stoness, Vice President, Regulatory and Finance, Kinder Morgan Canada Inc to Nathan Braun, Executive Project Director, British Columbia Environmental Assessment Office (CCed on this email) that

"Trans Mountain understands that authorizations or permits from either federal, provincial or municipal levels of government with respect to the installation of fish spawning deterrents are not required, as long as the installation itself is carried out in a manner that avoids serious harm (e.g. prior to the arrival of migrating fishes)."
 
The letter goes on to explain why Trans Mountain believes this to be true with regard to the National Energy Board, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, and Provincial Agencies. Regarding provincial agencies Trans Mountain's letter says that since use of spawning deterrents "does not require excavations or modifications to the bed or banks of a stream" no authorization under Section 11 of the Water Sustainability Act is required.

I would have thought that changing stream bed that is suitable for spawning into stream bed that is not suitable for spawning does amount to "modifications to the bed" of a stream. However, if Kinder Morgan are correct this could allow us to conduct activities such as showing freshwater invertebrates in streams year round. The local Home Depot has snow fence in stock for $29.78 per 48 inches x 50 feet. It is too late for this year but if we could put snow fence next year in the areas that are convenient for public access here in Chilliwack such as locations in Peach Creek, Browne Creek Wetlands, and Hope Slough, and if we may assume the technique to be effective (I understand from Trans Mountain's blog that there is scarcity of science to back this technique), then we could conduct activities next year in those streams that we otherwise would not during times when eggs or larvae might be present.

Please confirm whether no authorizations are needed for use of spawning deterrents, and specifically for use of snow fence as a deterrent as this seems to be quite an accessible method for community groups like ours both in terms of cost and ease of installation and removal.

Best,
Ian Stephen
Program Director
The WaterWealth Project

sockeye 

 

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