Drought-proofing

Photos: Drought Proofing Gang, 2012:  (…) Doug Richardson, Grant Hayden, Janis McLean, (…)

cover photo:  salmon spawning by Aril Bencze

Salmon streams can run low as a result of natural stream fluctuations and also climate change-induced drought. QISES monitors water levels and in some significant salmon creeks, retains water from wetter months to be released during times of low water levels, keeping young salmon alive before they migrate out to the ocean.

Hyacinthe Creek has historically been a “flashy” creek – its steep slope and rocky terrain make it rise and fall quickly.  QISES’ droughtproofing program has helped support young coho fry during low water times.

Drought-proofing in Hyacinthe Creek

Begun in 2004, the QISES drought-proofing program uses naturally stored winter and spring runoff in Mud Lake, Reed Lake, Little Morte Lake and one lower wetland to augment summer flow in Hyacinthe Creek when required.  Drawdown of these sources in sequence, or together, is intended to maximize water delivery to lower reaches of Hyacinthe Creek during dry periods, and thus provide higher quality rearing habitat for coho fry.

Fall, winter, and spring rains result in some groundwater storage in Quadra watersheds.  However, Hyacinthe creek’s rocky terrain have historically made it a “flashy” creek – where water levels can rise and fall quickly. 

Besides repairing and replacing waterlines, volunteers have at times built a sandbag dam at the outlet to Reed Lake, to mimic the beaver dam that in some years naturally retains water in the creek.  We also regularly monitor and when needed clean out debris blockages at the two large culverts under Hyacinthe Bay Road, sometimes with help from the Emcon road crew. 

In recent years, drought has become a regular part of the long-term forecast, especially in late summer and fall.  To maintain the habitat needed for young coho, the cool, oxygenated water water provided by the waterlines helps support coho fry and trout, thus justifying the hard work and stream modifications that volunteers carried out to keep the system viable. 

A huge thank you to the many QISES volunteers for their help supporting the coho and trout of Hyacinthe Creek!

Volunteer Crew

(Hyacinthe Creek hydrology study)

Annual Drought-proofing Reports:

Photos: Drought-proofing gang, 2012