Elk River on endangered list again

The Elk River has been named the ninth most endangered river in the province, in a list compiled by the Outdoor Recreation Council (ORC).

The Elk River has been named the ninth most endangered river in the province, in a list compiled by the Outdoor Recreation Council (ORC).

The Elk River was eighth on the list last year and 12th in 2009, when it first appeared on the list.

The ORC blamed development, increasing selenium levels and wildlife migration issues for pushing the river into the list.

In 2010 Teck Coal commissioned a panel of experts to investigate selenium levels in the river. They found the levels were increasing as a result of coal mining and said they would investigate ways to manage the problem.

The District of Sparwood said they check the levels of selenium in Sparwood’s drinking water regularly, and the levels remain within Canadian standards.

“The District personnel have previously tested for selenium levels in our water for safety and to check for any influence that the Elk River has on our wells,” said Danny Dwyer, director of planning and engineering services.

“We will continue to complete chemical analysis tests of our potable water every couple of years. Past tests have shown that one well has higher selenium levels and may be influenced by the Elk River.

“Currently, the Interior Health Authority, which governs all drinking water in the region, does not require selenium levels to be tested or reported. However, the District should continue periodic testing of its water to ensure conformance with Canadian drinking water guidelines.

“We will also continue to work with Teck and other agencies to monitor the Elk River.”

Topping the endangered rivers list was the Kettle River, which runs through B.C.’s southern interior near the towns of Midway, Rock Creek and Grand Forks. The ORC said the river is already suffering from excessive water withdrawals, seasonal low flows and high water temperatures, and is threatened by significant new water extraction proposals near its source.

In the second place is “the sacred headwaters,” on the southern edge of B.C.’s Spatsizi wilderness.

The area is the site of a major proposal to extract coal bed methane gas.

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