Coquitlam River making gains

Murray Clare of RiverWatch. - craig Hodge/the tri-city newS
Murray Clare of RiverWatch.
— image credit: craig Hodge/the tri-city newS

The Coquitlam River is slowly creeping down the list of endangered rivers and one volunteer who keeps an eye on the local waterway says efforts by government agencies, streamkeepers, miners and BC Hydro may be the reason.

The Coquitlam is now listed as number 10 out of 11 endangered rivers by the Outdoor Recreation Council of BC in an annual survey, down from number six spot just five years ago.

“I think that BC Hydro has done a good job in last four to five years in controlling the water flow in the Coquitlam,” said Murray Clare, a volunteer with RiverWatch, whose group monitors the river from the source to the mouth. “They’ve maintained a really good control of it.”

Clare said gravel companies are doing a better job of controlling siltation than they used to and groups and local authorities are working together on a Coquitlam River Watershed Strategy that could mean more co-ordinated stewardship and better protection of the river.

“There’s good people on that core group,” said Clare, who grew up in a neighbourhood next to the river and used to fish and swim in it and neighbouring creeks. He now picks up litter and checks on the river during his regular walks for RiverWatch.

According to the Outdoor Recreation Council, gravel mining and excessive sediment continue to be a problem on the river as well as rapid urbanization and related run-off: “One need only drive above the gravel mines on a rainy day to see the difference in water quality there as opposed to what exists downstream of the mines.”

The group would like to see a strategy for dealing with the problem as well as regular water quality monitoring to see if sediment levels are high enough to harm fish.

Other rivers on the endangered list include the Kettle River, the headwaters of the Skeena, Nash and Stikine, the Peace River, the Kokish River, and the Morice, Taku River, Similkameen, Elk, Bute and Atlin rivers. Among the issues facing these rivers are water extraction, development, hydroelectric dams and independent power projects.



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