Anglers fear reduced water flows on Cheakamus will affect fish 

Deadline nears for public comments on B.C. Hydro plan

The Sept. 21 deadline for public comments regarding the Cheakamus Water Use Plan is approaching too fast for local anglers and boaters.

Under the proposed plan B.C. Hydro will reduce the amount of water released from the Daisy Lake Dam into the Cheakamus River.

Under the current interim agreement among stakeholders, set in 1997, 45 per cent of the in-flow into Daisy Lake is released into the Cheakamus River. That results in between 35 and 70 cubic metres per second of water in the river from April to August.

If the new water use plan is put into effect, flow from the dam could be reduced to a minimum of 7 cubic metres per second. The water that isn’t released into the Cheakamus will be diverted to the B.C. Hydro generation station in the Squamish Valley.

Many people believe reduced water levels in the Cheakamus will impact fish populations and the growing number of kayakers and rafters using runs just south of the dam and in the Paradise Valley area.

Of the 12 stakeholders that sat at the Cheakamus Water Use Plan table, only B.C. Hydro and the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans were in favour of the B.C. Hydro plan, with the remaining members in favour of keeping the interim agreement in place until a consensus could be reached.

"They said that there wasn’t a consensus at the table, but that was not the case – the majority of people at the table wanted to keep the interim agreement in place until we could reach an agreement," said Dave Brown, who participated in the discussions as a representative of the Whistler Angling Club for two years.

"Now we’re concerned that the plan is going ahead without a big enough window for public commentary – we only got the letter advising us of the (Sept. 21) deadline a few weeks ago. That’s not much time for a decision of this magnitude."

No spokesperson from B.C. Hydro was available to comment on the plan.

John Wright, the chair of the Squamish-Lillooet Sport Fishery Advisory Committee, believes it’s important to consider the history before moving ahead.

"I’ve been fishing here since 1960, when they first started taking the water out, and in the early years the (salmon and steelhead) runs were really good, and you had a reasonably good amount of water in the river. Shortly after that things started to go cold, at least from a sport fisherman’s perspective, but it was still OK.

"It wasn’t until the early ’70s, when they really started cutting back, that we really started to notice that there was a lot less water and a lot less fish," he said.


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