Banner Photo: The Squamish River, into which the Cheakamus River drains. (Credit: Aroha Miller)

2020 Rating

2020 Rationale

Large interannual variations are observed. A shift in timing of peak flows will have effects on other species.

2017 Rating

2017 Rationale

The last few years have seen a deviation from historic seasonal stream flow patterns, with increasing rainfall causing high flow in winters and summers affected by record lows. Such seasonal shifts can impact migration patterns of aquatic species such as salmon and pose increased flood risk for human settlements and facilities in Howe Sound. We lack data for most of the streams in Howe Sound and lack information on specific impacts.

The following is an excerpt from the full updated article. Download the full 2020 article for all content and references.

Stream Flows: Daisy Lake Reservoir and the Cheakamus River

Authors: Francesca Knight, President, Squamish River Watershed Society

Jennifer Chapman, Research Assistant, Ocean Watch, Ocean Wise Research Institute

Reviewer: Edith Tobe, Executive Director, Squamish River Watershed Society

Excerpt from 2020 article

Climate change predictions suggest that stream flow patterns will shift, meaning plants and animals that live alongside or in rivers will need to adapt to survive. Changing stream flow patterns will also influence the volume and timing of freshwater input to the marine environment, among other potential impacts. Therefore, it is important to monitor river flows to understand yearly differences and long-term trends.

Within the Átl’ḵa7tsem/Txwnéwu7ts/Howe Sound watershed, there are numerous river systems that are monitored for stream flows by the Water Survey of Canada (WSC), including most rivers and their major tributaries in the Squamish River watershed (the Mamquam, Squamish, Ashlu, Elaho, Cheakamus and Stawamus rivers). Daily river flow from Daisy Lake Reservoir was previously reported (see Stream Flows, OWHS 2017). The shift in flow seasonality reported for Daisy Lake Reservoir appeared similar to projected shifts due to climate change.

Read the full article to see what else is happening.

Background: Squamish River as it flows south towards the estuary and Átl’ḵa7tsem/Txwnéwu7ts/Howe Sound. (Credit: Rich Duncan)

What’s been done since 2017?

The table below reports on progress made on recommended actions from the previous 2017 article, where identified. Many of these require ongoing action.

2017 Action Action Taken
Individual and Organization Actions
Become familiar with the current Integrated Flood Hazard Management Plan (IFHMP). Be aware of flood hazards in your area and be prepared for an emergency at your home and workplace. Refer to the District of Squamish’s IFHMP, adopted in 2017.
Help prevent climate change by producing fewer greenhouse gasses. Adopt policies and practices within your organization. Incentives to decrease the costs of electric vehicles are available in B.C., link below. vehicle-incentives/#izev
Government Action and Policy
Continue to closely monitor streamflow data and trends. BC Hydro continues to monitor river flows in areas where they have run-of-river hydroelectricity generators. This includes Daisy Lake Reservoir and Culliton Creek in the Squamish watershed. Other hydroelectric projects monitor stream flows, e.g., Mamquam River. While BC Hydro is a provincial Crown corporation, other hydroelectric operators are not.
Increase capacity to respond to extreme weather events, including droughts. Refer to the District of Squamish’s IFHMP, adopted in 2017.
Continue to renew the Integrated Flood Hazard Management Plan (IFHMP) every five to 10 years. See Resources on extreme weather events below. This is not a substitute for government-level actions. A number of the district municipalities have an emergency response program section on their websites.
Protect the coastline from storm surge and flooding using Green Shores techniques. Greater awareness of and interest in Green Shores through Átl’ḵa7tsem/Txwnéwu7ts/Howe Sound has been noted, although the increase in inquiries has not yet translated into enrolled projects (see Shorelines, OWHS 2020).
Withdraw, relocate or abandon public assets in high-risk areas of flooding. Being discussed in some local Átl’ḵa7tsem/Txwnéwu7ts/Howe Sound municipalities.
Increase public education on what to do in the event of extreme weather, flooding and drought. A selection of resources outlining what to do in these events are provided in the full report.

What can you do?

A detailed overview of recommended actions relating to climate change is included in The path to zero carbon municipalities. In some cases, no progress was identified on previous recommended actions; these remain listed below. Additional actions marked as NEW also follow.

action-individual Individual and Organization Actions:

    • Record stream levels when enumerating salmon spawning.
    • Withdraw, relocate or abandon private assets in high-risk areas of flooding.
    • Implement and practise water conservation measures in your home and within your organization.
    • NEW Plant trees and vegetation along waterways.
    • NEW Join a citizen science group that restores wetlands.

action-governmentGovernment Action and Policy:

    • Take action to minimize rainfall-related flooding and associated consequences.
    • Develop an education plan for the Integrated Flood Hazard Management Plan to educate locals, especially those in high-risk areas.
    • Identify and develop plans for slopes at high risk of landslide.
    • Develop policies for back-up power in all eventualities.
    • Increase flood construction levels, add covenants to reduce liability and retrofit existing buildings.
    • Identify future no-build zones or use land acquisition or restriction tools such as land trusts.
    • Work with BC Hydro to ensure sufficient water flow in “managed” rivers that support salmon spawning and migration.
    • NEW Increase awareness and education around the importance of headwaters.
    • NEW Data collected by BC Hydro and other independent run-of-river plants should be made available to independent researchers.
    • NEW Hydroelectric power generation requires a substantial quantity of water. Operators of these facilities and government authorities that regulate power plants should consider water availability changes when setting future targets for water diversion.
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