Jim and Laura Duncan of Mainstream Environmental Society have been monitoring the water quality in Joseph Creek for the past couple of years.
And a quick glimpse of the results shows a water course that becomes impacted as it winds through the City of Cranbrook down to its confluence with the St. Mary River near St. Eugene Golf Resort and Casino.
The couple appeared before City of Cranbrook council March 19 to outline highlights of their work and to seek “a more solid connection” with a city committee.
Jim Duncan described himself and his wife as “citizen scientists who are filling the void” from government cutbacks. “We do provide broad based and accurate information. We’re doing things for the long-term.”
They add the information they collect at three monitoring stations on Joseph Creek to Environment Canada’s CABIN (Canadian Aquatic Biomonitoring Network).
The Duncans’ reporting is in lockstep with a 1996 BC Environment study called Urban Impacts on Lower Joseph Creek: A Preliminary Investigation, which noted the watercourse that begins on Cranbrook Mountain “suffers the abuses of most urban streams: channelization, modification of riparian zones, changes to annual hydrograph and contamination by urban runoff.”
The three water quality monitoring sites used by the Duncans are located in the upper watershed, near Kinsmen Park and near the confluence with the St. Mary River.
Water quality is good at the upper site, “slightly impaired” near Kinsmen Park and “impaired” in the lower reaches.
“There is a clear trend of increasing turbidity” from top to bottom, Jim Duncan told council.
Water temperature also increases running from top to bottom, Laura Duncan added.
“There is quite a clear indication the creek is not in optimal condition” for aquatic species, she said.
“It’s fair to conclude there is increasing impairment of Joseph Creek,” Jim said, adding Mainstream Environmental Society “would relish the opportunity to work more closely with the city.”
Because of Ministry of Environment constraints from cutbacks, “it’s very difficult for them to look at Joseph Creek” because it is already impaired, Jim Duncan said.
“We disagree with them,” he said, adding, they believe it can be restored to a point where fish would prosper once again.
Joseph Creek was once an important spawning stream for westslope cutthroat trout, rainbow trout and eastern brook trout.
The creek originates on Cranbrook Mountain and flows about 13 km down an elevation drop from 1,700 m to 1,280 m before it joins the Gold Creek diversion, which was built in 1909 to increase Joseph Creek’s flow for the sake of the city’s water supply at Phillips Reservoir, built in 1974.
Below Phillips Reservoir, the creek winds for five km through the farm and rural lands of Gold Creek into Idlewild Lake. It flows a further 11 km north to the St. Mary River.
The Duncans intend to continue with their education program.
For more on CABIN go to: http://www.ec.gc.ca/rcba-cabin/ .
Above image: The point where Joseph Creek meets St. Mary River.
Ian Cobb/e-KNOWTags: CABINCanadian Aquatic Biomonitoring NetworkJim and Laura DuncanMainstream Environmental SocietySt. Mary River
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