Salmon River Diversion must go

Dear editor,

The Comox Valley chapter of the Steelhead Society of BC believes strongly that the Salmon River Diversion should be decommissioned.

The Campbell River Salmon Foundation first identified fish passage problems in December 2007. In 2008, BC Hydro devised a fish passage decision framework, which led to three years of inactivity and time wasted. In June of 2010, following the drowning of five elk over a two-year period, BC Hydro began building an elk fence, completed in November 2011, which was definitely a positive move.

However, in the process of building the fence, Hydro personnel discovered the extremely poor condition of the concrete portion of the canal, which was originally built in 1958.

Because of the state of disrepair, Hydro has not used the diversion since June of 2010. Steelhead society members and Campbell River volunteers question the whole concept of stealing water from one river to supplement another, especially from a river such as the Salmon with its rich fish-producing capacity.

The concept was wrong in the first place and in the context of global warming would be even more wrong now.

Also, from a fiscal responsibility point of view, the cost of repairs would run into tens of millions of dollars, which we perceive as wasted dollars for a facility that stole water and compromised fish populations from the beginning.

Should the Salmon River Diversion be decommissioned, fish stocks in the Salmon River system would gain unrestricted access to an additional 42 kilometers of prime spawning and rearing water, including a likely increase of iconic Salmon River steelhead populations of 30 per cent, and BC Hydro would save tens of millions of dollars.

Larry Peterson

Editor’s note: Larry Peterson is chair of the Comox Valley chapter of the Steelhead Society of BC.


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