File photo

Teck reports loss of fish due to construction operations

The company reported 26 dead Westslope cutthroat trout due to low water levels

Teck has reported the deaths of 26 Westslope cutthroat trout in a section of Dry Creek 600 metres downstream of a water management construction project at Line Creek.

“The mortality is believed to be due to a temporary drop in water level in the creek associated with the construction work,” said Teck spokesman Norman Fraser.

“We take this incident very seriously and have reported it to regulators and to the Ktunaxa Nation Council and have launched an internal investigation to identify measures to prevent a recurrence.”

Fraser said that Teck had put precautionary measures in place following the reports, with the company saying last week it would restore, manage and monitor the flow of the affected section of Dry Creek while the project was under construction.

In addition, a fish salvage crew was on site at the location where the Westslope cutthroat trout died to relocate live fish and avoid further deaths.

The water management project that lowered the water levels and led to the fish deaths is designed to protect fish by preventing them from accessing a channel to a pond on the site.

Water levels have since been restored, as the water management project has been completed.

Local environmental group, Wildsight took aim at Teck for the fish deaths, saying the event raised larger questions around the health of local waterways and Teck’s responsibility.

“Last year, we heard about the trout population crashes in the upper Fording River and Harmer Creek, but Teck still hasn’t released their report on why they think those trout populations collapsed so quickly,” said Lars Sander-Green, Mining Lead for Wildsight, “and now we’re hearing about more problems in Dry Creek, in the same upper Fording River watershed.”

Teck reported the loss of 96 per cent of adult fish in the upper Fording River, and 96 per cent of juvenile fish in Harmer Creek between 2017 and 2019 last year, with Wildsight claiming a report promised by Teck has yet to see the light of day.

“It’s been a year since these fish population crashes came to light,” said Sander-Green, “but we still don’t have any follow up information from Teck on how the remaining fish are doing or what, if anything, can be done to protect them.”

READ MORE: Clear water: Teck water treatment facility nears completion



scott.tibballs@thefreepress.ca
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