Water Issues Heat Up with Summer

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Strong parallels appear between local and global water issues as a global heatwave exacerbates freshwater stresses. Algae blooms affect many waters, leading to fish and aquatic mammal die-offs and warnings for people to avoid contact with the water. Record heat drives wild fires around the globe, releasing large amounts of carbon and diminishing the ability of the land to hold water between periods of precipitation -- at the same time that intense precipitation is causing washouts and flooding such as was seen in Toronto August 7th. A recreational Fraser Sockeye fishery was announced at the same time that news appeared that the Fraser River was getting too warm and high pre-spawn mortality rates might be expected. 

Yet for all these stresses there are people stepping up to respond!

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Indigenous leaders taking legal action to defend wild salmon

This past year, more hard evidence has clearly shown that fish farms in coastal B.C. continue to do serious harm to endangered wild salmon – but to date the Canadian federal and provincial governments have not removed a single fish farm. We are at the last stand for wild salmon in the Salish Sea.paddleforsalmon.jpg

Legal action is being taken by Indigenous defenders at this critical stage, with a winning strategy to remove harmful fish farms from their traditional territories.

This Sunday, August 12, a Canoe Paddle will occur on the Fraser, from Sq'ewlets to Shxwhá:y Village in the Chilliwack B.C. area. Five large canoes will be paddled by teams of wild salmon defenders in a friendly competition between Canoe Teams to raise $45,000 to support legal action.

Organized by Wild Salmon Defenders Alliance with Shxwhá:y Village.

You can donate to support a team at http://wsda.ca/paddle-event/donate/

More Information: http://wsda.ca/paddle-event/

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The Heart of the Fraser is critical to the survival of Fraser River salmon and sturgeon. Its gravel reaches are prime spawning habitat for salmon and the endangered white sturgeon, and it serves as a nursery for billions of baby salmon every year.

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Today, two large islands in the Heart of the Fraser are in grave danger. Herrling and Carey Islands not only provide a large amount of vital fish habitat but are an important area for fishing and outdoor recreation. Developers want to turn this prime salmon and sturgeon habitat into subdivisions and industrial farmland. Your help is needed to stop them.

The developers have applied to build bridges to these islands which, if approved, would clear the way for large scale destruction of the islands’ wetlands and side channels that provide important fish habitat. Developing these islands will also remove them from the floodplain, likely increasing flood risk in the surrounding communities.

Please join us in telling decision-makers not to approve these bridges!

Conservation groups want to buy these islands for conservation purposes and are urging the provincial government to develop a comprehensive management plan for the Heart of the Fraser, involving First Nations and communities. But if the bridges are approved, the purchase price of the islands will skyrocket, making their protection extremely difficult. The bridges must be stopped!

Will you stand with us to defend the Heart of the Fraser?
Add your voice at heartofthefraser.ca.

For the fish and for our future!

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goodbye.jpgHorrific algae blooms have hit Florida waterways along with a giant red tide on the Florida coast. Cuts to State and federal environmental monitoring, dismantling of agencies regulating growth, and failure to address excess nutrient runoff from agriculture has lead to massive fish die-offs and at least 15 people being hospitalized following contact with algae-laden water. (There is even some evidence that long term exposure to algae fumes can lead to neurological disorders.)

Meanwhile right here in the Fraser Valley, Hatzic Lake has been hit by a fish die-off that has included at least two sturgeon. Tests indicate ecoli levels are acceptable, but there are high levels of phosphorus and nitrogen - suggesting runoff from farms may be at the root of the problem.

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A very active group of locals have raised the alarm and the Fraser Valley Regional District, Fraser Health, Environment Canada and DFO are involved. People are being warned to avoid contact with the water.

On the other side of the Fraser, WaterWealth and Skwah volunteers were doing fish surveys alongside staff from Pearson Ecological in mid-July. Traps set overnight were being pulled up heavy with algae already. Improvements to the flows of the sloughs would go a long way to helping to keep them healthy and restoring the numbers of salmon spawning there. The City has done studies to come up with a plan. Multi-jurisdictional cooperation and funding would be required. It's all doable depending on the politics. Connect with the Save Our Slough Facebook group to support.

Restoring individual waterways and emergency response by regional, provincial and federal agencies is not the complete answer though. We need strong environmental flow regulations under the Water Sustainability Act (WSA), the long-promised review of WSA rates to resource BC to do a better job of looking after our home waters than Florida is doing, and better riparian management and agricultural practices to turn around the degradation that has diminished fisheries and stolen long-cherished swimming spots from the Fraser Valley.

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Lastly, no WaterWealth update would be complete without mentioning the Trans Mountain Trudeau Morneau pipeline.

In our last update we mentioned that Kinder Morgan refuses to engage in facilitated discussions with WaterWealth. No surprise, and frankly we're so far apart on the issue that we had no intention of doing so either. What we asked the NEB for was an opportunity to talk with the new owners of the pipeline -- our own federal government -- once the purchase is complete.

The NEB ruled the request premature because the federal purchase is not complete yet. Initially the government had said that the purchase would allow work on the pipeline to begin immediately. They had to know that was not true since the NEB route hearings are still under way and the company continues working on conditions compliance and applying for permits. The government also said that the purchase would be complete by August. That was perhaps not intentionally misleading, but certainly contributed to public misunderstanding of the timing of the deal.

The agreement between the government and Kinder Morgan did have a hard date of July 22 for either party to find another purchaser (As if anyone else is going to touch this thing!),Trudeau-Morneau.jpg but as to the deal being closed by sometime in August -- Kinder Morgan Canada shareholders don't even vote on it until August 30. The closing date in the agreement does not have a fixed date. Rather it is based on fulfillment of a number of conditions. A July 18 earnings report from Kinder Morgan Inc said that the deal is expected to close "in the late third quarter or early fourth quarter of 2018." With Segment 6 route hearings (which include Chilliwack) concluding sometime in the second half of October, it's an open question whether we will have opportunity to meet with the federal owners in the NEB Alternative Dispute Resolution process.

Past attempts to bring the issues to the attention of the Prime Minister and Minister of Natural Resources have been utterly useless, with queries being routed through Minister Carr's office and their trying to distance themselves from the problems here by pointing to the NEB process. However, we have a new Minister of Natural Resources since the recent appointment of Amarjeet Sohi to the position. Sohi is an MP from Edmonton, but perhaps despite being an Alberta MP a new minister brings a new opportunity for dialogue. If not, well there's still the hearings to try and stop the madness of doubling down on an oil pipeline through some of the most sensitive and high risk areas of Chilliwack when a far superior route exists nearby.

More broadly on the pipeline route, the company has recently filed documents regarding multiple streamcrossings where they don't intend to meet DFO's "Measures to Avoid Causing Harm to Fish and Fish Habitat". Many of the streams listed indicate construction dates that have already passed or will within the next few days (as of August 10 time of writing). With Kinder Morgan's wildly premature and unauthorized installation of plastic snow fence spawning deterrentsDJI_0029_sm.jpg last year in mind, WaterWealth will be seeking clarification from the NEB whether the company is actually trenching streams prior to construction being authorized, whether anyone is checking, whether action will be taken if the company is once again out of compliance, and if not out of compliance will the NEB have them correct their filings to indicate actual dates for which they're seeking Fisheries Act permission to do those crossings.

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Lots of issues pricklier than a sculpin!

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With campaigning underway for the upcoming local elections in BC, be sure to ask your candidates for mayor and council where they stand on protection of our shared home waters.

In Chilliwack, will they:

  • Support the plan to restore flows to Camp Slough?
  • Ensure that the City put up a strong fight in the pipeline route hearings?
  • Help implement solutions to runoff from roads and farms into fishbearing streams?

Whatever place you call home, please ask your candidates to state clearly their commitment to protect your home waters!

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

 

WaterWealth needs the support of people who recognize the importance of public
participation in planning and decision making that affects our shared home waters.
Please consider supporting with a donation,


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