Stoney Creek Road Salt and Salmon Program has begun

The chloride contamination in Stoney Creek from salt applied to roads on Burnaby Mountain is continuing.

The BC Ministry of Environment has not acted, but is still investigating.

Stoney Creek Environment Committee (SCEC) Road Salt and Salmon Program

What we know about the effects of road salt in the environment:

  1. In 2001, Environment Canada determined that road salt was toxic to the environment. Because of traffic safety concerns, they did not ban salt outright, instead in 2014 they released a voluntary Canada-wide Code of Practice to encourage those using road salt to use best practices to minimize the amount of salt escaping into the environment. Environment Canada has released no data so far to show that this voluntary Code has been effective.
  2. In Burnaby’s Stoney Creek year-round high salt levels come from two sources: winter salting near the creek’s headwaters on Burnaby mountain and accumulated salt in the groundwater. SCEC conducted an in-stream bio-assay in 2009 that indicated that high, short salt pulses were damaging some Chum salmon alevins, right after they hatched.

What we don’t know:

  1. Is Stoney creek the only salmon creek in the BC Lower Mainland affected by road salt?
  2. Are Coho salmon more affected by pulses of salt than Chum? (See MacIntyre’s studies on road runoff in Washington state.) If so, this might partly explain why Coho are in decline here.

To answer Question 1., SCEC is widening its water monitoring activities by engaging high school students to monitor local creeks using kits from WaterRangers and putting more conductivity loggers in surrounding streams.  We have applied for grants from NSERC and PSF to fund this program.

To answer Question 2., we are engaging researchers at UBC Department of Biology and the DFO Pacific Science Enterprise Centre to repeat Vladimir’s study under controlled conditions and with Coho.

If you want to participate or want more information, please email Alan James <acjames76 at gmail.com>.