A LKT crew is shown conducting daily servicing

Hydro, First Nations partner on watershed monitoring

A partnership between BC Hydro and local First Nations is providing opportunities for environmental and engineering work in fisheries, recreation, vegetation, wildlife and erosion.

BC Hydro has been working with the Laich-Kwil-Tach Environmental Assessments Limited Partnership (LKT) on their capacity to deliver these important water use plan monitoring studies and some capital works. LKT consists of the We Wai Kai Nation and the Campbell River Indian Band.

The water use planning program is providing opportunities for environmental and engineering work that covers off fisheries, recreation, vegetation, wildlife and erosion.

“For BC Hydro we spent three-and-a-half years in consulting and working with the Campbell River community on how we could change our water flow regimes in the reservoirs and the lower Campbell River to better benefit all the various water use interests,” says BC Hydro’s Stephen Watson. “We’ve been operating to that new regime for a few years now and a key element is monitoring those changes to hopefully confirm the various improvements we are all hoping for.

“Things like improved fish productivity. It’s great that First Nations are leading these studies, through a partnership, so we can be even more informed about the watershed.”

For the Campbell River First Nation, the advanced discussions and collaboration with BC Hydro have allowed them to establish a capable team.

“As part of A’Tlegay Fisheries, we had a good team of people that were involved in various projects, including some previous BC Hydro initiatives, but the water use planning work required an expansion to those skillsets,” says Chief Bob Pollard. “It’s a whole new level so we’ve worked well with partnering companies to assist us and provide LKT with the ability to hire the expertise required to carry out this work. Our people are part of this learning process.”

There are 13 monitoring projects taking place over 10 years, with eight of them already underway and being conducted by LKT.

There are six physical works projects that will also be completed over 10 years.

One of those projects, a replacement of the Salmon River Diversion fish screen, has been rolled into the Salmon River Diversion Canal Refurbishment & Fish Passage Improvement Project, while the other five are in preliminary stages of scoping and development.

The skillsets LKT staff continue to develop include field safety management, lake acoustic surveys, specialized sampling of fish (scales, otoliths, fin rays, tissues) for ageing, DNA and SIA analysis, to fish snorkel surveys.

These skillsets are not just about fish. Other components include vegetation and habitat surveys and terrestrial sampling, hydrometric gauge/remote sensing installation and maintenance, and public impression surveys.

“We are continuing to build and refine our relationship with BC Hydro and this is another example of how we are working together,” says Acting Chief, Brian Assu, of the We Wai Kai Nation. “This is a good story all the way around, whether about our people learning new skills and working with other companies, to the water use planning program and through this research, we will be developing more comprehensive information about fish and wildlife in the Campbell River watershed.”