Everything Hitched to Everything Else

WaterWealth's climate monitoring program has reached another milestone!

salmon_migration_routes.jpgLike a salmon life cycle, and like the program itself as local action on a global problem, the backstory to this latest milestone is an example of interconnections across different geographic and political scales.

Our list of monitoring sites was submitted to Ts'elxwéyeqw Tribe on May 1, 2020. (See our April 30 blog post "Climate Monitoring Milestone Met" for more on why this project in this watershed.) Subsequent discussions with Ts'elxwéyeqw Tribe and additional information from Pearson Ecological added a few more sites to our list. An approach to monitoring Sxótsaqel (Chilliwack Lake) was arrived at, leveraging on-going work by Pearson Ecological to study a very unusual population of lake-dwelling dace there.

Within two weeks of our list being submitted we got a referral report from the People of the River Referrals Office (PRRO) with recommendations and resources to help us go about this work in the territory in a good way. Our next step was to absorb those materials and recommendations into policies for how we will go about the work.

However, our climate action had to be delayed due to the Trans Mountain Expansion Project detailed route hearings. How's that for a microcosm of Canada on climate and energy right now?

WaterWealth first engaged on the Trans Mountain project largely out of global concerns. In many ways water is how climate change will be felt. Changes in the water cycle are impacting ecosystems, species, societies and individuals now, and will do so to greater and greater extents as climate change continues. Our position in the facilities hearing on the Trans Mountain project was from that global perspective -- that the 21st century is not a time to be adding major new fossil fuel infrastructure anywhere.

But the government approved the project and WaterWealth is a community organization, so our role became one of trying to protect things that are most vulnerable and most critical in our community.

That work depends on schedules set by the regulator, and happened to be in high gear just at the time we received the referral report from PRRO. Finalizing plans and deploying temperature loggers for our climate monitoring program had to wait.

hardatwork.pngThere's been too much going on in the route hearings to get into here. Motions, comments on motions, reply comments, and rulings; information requests, responses to information requests, responses to responses; the very critical written evidence with photos and videos taking the place of CER site visits. Countless hours of work that from the perspective of the climate monitoring program was unwanted but unavoidable delay.

In the midst of all that, the CER required Trans Mountain to map all of the locations of particular concerns and all of the alternate routes that have been raised in all of the hearings in Chilliwack. That resulted in still more process steps as Trans Mountain filed for an extension on the map deadline, CER invited comments on the motion, and the maps had to be reviewed and responded to once they were produced. But the good news is twofold. First, CER requesting those maps suggests they are looking at the Trans Mountain routing issues across Chilliwack holistically. Second, the new process steps resulted in hearings being stretched out several months. And that meant that after filing comments on Trans Mountain's maps we got some breathing room as written argument in the City hearing isn't due now until October 15. Other hearings in Chiliwack don't have argument until 23-26 November!

That breathing room in the pipeline hearings was just what the climate monitoring program needed. (And isn't that a thought that scales well!) We drafted policies for our approach to working in the various categories of area in the S’ólh Téméxw Use Plan Policy, confirmed the go-ahead from PRRO, and following one more meeting to prioritize our list we're set to deploy temperature loggers at last!

Adding to the good news, Gerry Enns Contracting and Emil Anderson Construction have provided generous material and funding donations for hardware to install the temperature loggers, a GPS to accurately mark the locations of each logger and help us return to the precise spots in different seasons, and the additional loggers for the sites that were added to our list!

Thanks also to the Visscher Group of Companies who provided the donation that allowed us to buy the initial 30 loggers, and have been understanding of the challenges that have made putting them to use take longer than any of us imagined.

WaterWealth is fortunate to have the tireless efforts of April, our volunteer streamkeeping coordinator, to keep this program in motion and build the relationships in the community that make the dream possible!

A hint at what's coming!

Temperature logging is just one metric among a whole range of water quality, habitat, and species observation and quantification to be pursued under the climate monitoring program. And the climate monitoring program will be just one element of a much broader theme of "Listen to the Water", a theme that's been patiently waiting to surface since Living Waters Rally 2016!

We look forward to sharing the data we collect through h2olog.ca and listentothewater.ca websites. (After the route hearings are done!) And also to exploring with you different ways and different reasons to listen to the water through lenses of environment, culture, health and more.


Our Wealth is in Our Water, Let's Protect It!



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