Water Crisis at Chapman Creek Hatchery
We have a water crisis at the Chapman Creek hatchery.11:30 Sunday Aug 23. The Chapman Creek hatchery intake pond has just about dried up.
In July the SCRD during communications with water stakeholders suggested that the hatchery move some rocks and put a siphon up the creek to ensure water flows to our intake pond. The SCRD communicated that they were going to further reduce flows to the bare minimum to further conserve water.
Hatchery staff constructed a temporary rock weir to help funnel water into it’s intake pipe due to the SCRD erratic and inconsistent water flows. This weir has now been removed as per request from the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations.
In terms of the water supply for the hatchery itself it is important to note that all Water Licences held by the SCRD on Chapman Creek are senior over those of the hatchery. Consequently there is no requirement under the Water Act or any other legislation for the SCRD nor the Province to ensure an adequate water supply for the hatchery operations.
Water Crisis at Chapman Creek Hatchery threatens Salmon
If the creek water levels go down by a few liters per second 54,000 Juvenile Coho are in serious jeopardy. We have well water that we have been blending with Creek water to keep the Coho alive but we cannot operate without creek water. If the SCRD is unable to keep adequate flows in the creek there is no point in even releasing the Coho into Chapman Creek.
The Chapman Creek hatchery also has 5000 Rainbow Trout in two tanks. These Trout are for food and fishing for the community for the next two years.The hatchery cannot release these trout anywhere and they are too small for food and fishing at this stage of their growth.
In the COAST REPORTER FRIDAY AUG 21,
The water level in Chapman Creek is controlled partially by the Sunshine Coast Regional District (SCRD), and general manager of infrastructure services Bryan Shoji said the district is doing its best to keep flows high enough for salmon to spawn during Stage 4 water restrictions.
“We release flow from Chapman Lake to augment the creek,” Shoji said. “We actually provide more water for fish than we do for human consumption.”
He explained that Chapman Lake is basically a large reservoir and the SCRD has a control structure on the lake that releases water into Chapman Creek.
Some of that creek water is then recaptured at the SCRD’s treatment plant intake about 14 km away, while the rest is left to flow downstream.
“We try to maintain a certain flow in the creek to help support the hatchery as well as base flows just for natural fish habitat,” Shoji said. He said recently the treatment plant has been taking about 115 litres of water per second while the creek has been left with around 220 litres per second.
“If it wasn’t for our structure, that creek would be even drier than it is now.”
However, when public demand for water rises, more must be released from the lake into the creek, and it takes about 14 hours for the effect to be felt downstream.
Sunshine Coast Salmonid Enhancement Society Mandate
The mandate of the Sunshine Coast Salmonid Enhancement Society is to assist, encourage-and promote Salmonid Enhancement in the streams of the Sunshine Coast. For the last 28 years the SCSES has stocked Chapman Creek with Coho, Pink and Chinook Salmon. The Salmon returning from the ocean are now classified as ‘Wild Salmon” meaning they have not been fin clipped and have spawned naturally in the creek. The Hatchery clips Coho but does not fin clip pink and Chinook Salmon.
I’ts an absolute travesty what with the Salmon population all over the South Coast at risk due to low water where communities have no water that our watershed for whatever reasons is in the state that it is.
The Sunshine Coast Salmonid Enhancement Society is in the process of completing an engineering study with Pentair for implementing a re circulation system.
Ultimately the Sunshine Coast as a whole and the fish are struggling to cope. Lets hope the SCRD releases some more water tonight.