Tsolum River Partnership Reduces Copper Contamination and Brings Salmon Back
Restoration of Stream Function
After a small open-pit copper mine on Mount Washington on Vancouver Island closed in the 1960s, leaching copper eliminated fisheries in the Tsolum River watershed. Remediation work in the ’80s and ’90s improved water quality but wasn’t enough to support a healthy fisheries resource.
In 2001, a partnership developed to restore the fishery became the Tsolum River Partnership. By 2009, copper contamination from the site had decreased by 77 per cent, drastically improving water quality and initiating the recovery of fisheries resources. In the fall of 2009, there were more pink salmon in the river than had been seen in 50 years.
“The exciting thing about this is that now we can go to work and repair the ecosystems. We can actually restore fish habitat and riparian areas, build refuge habitat, stabilize banks, stabilize sub-straits, and end up with a system that’s going to be self-sustaining. It will probably take us another 20 years to do that. But at least we can do that now…It’s really, really exciting,” stated Jack Minard, Executive Director of the Tsolum River Restoration Society.
The Tsolum River Restoration Society and other organizations partnered with the Environment Ministry. This partnership has been recognized with a Premier’s Innovation and Excellence Award.
The Premier’s Awards acknowledge outstanding achievements in public service. “I would like to thank each of these recipients for their leadership, dedication and incredible determination,” Premier Christy Clark said in a news release.
To Learn More:
“On April 28th, 2009 as I sat in a Tsolum River Partnership meeting at the Ministry of Environment offices in Nanaimo on Vancouver Island, I let my mind wander back to the beginnings of how we got here,” reflected Jack Minard in an article published by the Watershed Sentinel in June/July 2009. To read the complete story, click on Creating Partnerships to Save the Tsolum River from Copper Leachate
To view a 2-minute video about the Premier’s Award that is posted on YouTube, click on Tsolum River Partnership Reduces Copper Contamination and Brings Salmon Back
Posted May 2011