Semiahmoo Fish and Game Club was flooded last weekend after heavy rain. (Bob Donnelly photo)

Salmon escape hatchery after South Surrey river floods

Semiahmoo Fish and Game Club uncertain how many fish got free

Semiahmoo Fish and Game Club members found themselves plucking coho salmon out of the facility’s parking lot last weekend after a significant flood washed over the club’s hatchery.

Club president Bob Donnelly told Peace Arch News Tuesday that they may never know how many fish were lost after the rising Campbell River reached the club’s coho rearing pond on Friday. The pond, located at 1284 184 St., was home to some 35,000 nine-month-old coho salmon.

“Some would survive, what percentage? We don’t know,” he said.

Donnelly said a City of Surrey rain gauge near the hatchery counted 112 mm (4.4 inches) of rainfall over a 30-hour period starting Friday and into Saturday morning.

He said the club’s only metric for counting the fish is a visual estimate when the salmon surface to feed.

“You can really get a feel for how many are surfacing to take the food. So that would be just an impression we get from not seeing as many fish surface,” he said. “So we may never know because once it comes time… to release them, we just open up the pipe that flows from the pond into the river and they make their way out.”

The river completely flooded the club’s parking lot and surrounding nature trails, and filled the hatchery building with three-to-four inches of water.

“We had to spend several hours repairing the parking lot because the water had (created) a number of holes … three-to-four feet deep. So we had to go in and repair that, but we have restored everything at this point,” he said.

Donnelly said it’s unlikely that they will seek an insurance claim because they took steps, prior to the flood, to protect electrical equipment.

“Fortunately, we (acted) in advance of the flooding and got all the equipment we have in the hatchery up off the ground. It could be damaged otherwise. We probably would have had an insurance claim if that not had been done.”

A rearing pond containing some 15,000 steelhead was protected, he added, due to a crew spending the night pumping water.

It’s only the second time, in his memory, that the club has experienced such a significant flood.

A notable flood occurred in 2008, after a heavy snowfall, which was followed by rain.

“It’s something we always watch for.”

Peace Arch News

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