Thanks for the heads up Chris.
One minute they say it's flood protection the next it's to keep the river bottom level/on keal/steady. I bet there looking for Bouncing Betties.
Dredging may not solve issue
Tuesday, January 08, 2008
The provincial government has stepped up with a plan to help reduce the risk of flooding.
Sounds great, on the surface, after the close call last spring and early summer.
But is it really an effective plan?
Provincial Public Safety Minister John Les announced that gravel removal will begin on the Fraser River early in the new year in a bid to reduce the risk of spring flooding.
"Our sole motivation for removing gravel is flood protection," said Les. "At the end of the day, we don't want to be playing Russian roulette with the safety of citizens in the Fraser Valley and Lower Mainland."
That sounds great and we hope he's right, but is this just a waste of time, or worse, a ploy for government and industry to make a profit under the guise of safety?
We're questioning the move because of a federal government report issued last spring that raises serious doubts about the plan. The report, obtained by CanWest News Service, said a massive dredging initiative on the lower Fraser River would likely do nothing to reduce the risk of catastrophic flooding.
"It shows that [gravel excavation] isn't the silver bullet for flood mitigation," Greg Savard, director of special projects at the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans, said last June.
The initiative would reduce water levels by only five to 15 centimetres, insignificant in preventing floods that would only occur if the river level swelled by several metres, said Barry Chilibeck, an engineer at Northwest Hydraulic, which conducted the study.
"It does not appear that large-scale gravel removals from the gravel reach of the Fraser River are effective in lowering the flood profile," concluded author Dale Muir in the April report.
"Localized reductions in water surface elevations are possible, but significant, wide-scale reductions at flood flows are unlikely."
The report, commissioned in March, recommends further studies to ensure that large-scale gravel extraction wouldn't result in riverbank erosion.
We hope the province will take another look at this plan and ensure it doesn't think dredging will solve all the problems. More money, tens of millions in fact, are needed locally to raise our dikes and protect our communities. Let's put our focus on that too.
© Chilliwack Times 2008
Ministry defends gravel plan
By Robert Freeman - Chilliwack Progress - January 08, 2008The proposal to remove up to 420,000 cubic metres of gravel from the Fraser River near Herrling Island is not meant to create more flood protection in the area, says a B.C. government official.
The point of the gravel removal “is not to lower the level of the river, it’s to maintain (the level) we have now,” Glen Thompson, B.C.’s director of flood protection, said in a recent interview with The Progress.
Each year more gravel is deposited in the river reach between Hope and Mission. Complicating the process of deciding where to remove it is the fact that the gravel is constantly on the move along the river bottom.
However, Thompson said the Herrling Island proposal would offer some local benefits by reducing the flow of the river now “sweeping toward” the dikes that protect Agassiz. A second proposed removal site at Spring Bar would reduce the river flow toward undiked Seabird Island. Nine potential removal sites have been identified.
A decision on whether to proceed with the Herrling Island proposal is not expected until later this month.
But it has already come under fire by biologists and others concerned about possible damage to fish habitat.
Frank Kwak, president of the Fraser Valley Salmon Society, said he agrees gravel can be removed from the river at certain sites at certain times, but he questions why the massive Herrling Island proposal is being considered in 2008, a pink salmon year.
He also said the public is being sold the idea that taking gravel out of the river will lower the water level and increase flood protection, but he argues dredging the sand and silt at the bottom would offer more protection without risking flood habitat.
“From a fisheries perspective ... you should be taking the sand and muck as opposed to the gravel,” he said.
Kwak also pointed out that a federal fisheries review of the fish-kill at an earlier gravel removal site called for the creation of a “multi-agency” review committee, which he believes should include recreational fishermen and First Nations.
“We can certainly send people (to the committee) who may not be technical experts but we can listen,” he said. “Instead, we’re kept off this committee altogether.”
Marvin Rosenau, a fish biologist and instructor at BCIT, has charged the B.C. government with “muzzling” committee members who are insisting on science-based evidence the Herrling Island proposal will not harm fish habitat.
He has likened the proposal to “running a D9 Caterpillar tractor down the center of the spawning beds of the Adams River” while providing “trivial” flood protection benefits.
He said the “comic book-level” of an environmental report to the committee was “a stunning testament to the refusal of the agencies to require a rigorous assessment of the impacts associated with these types of projects.”
BC Environment Minister Barry Penner said he stands by the review process, and that gravel must be removed from the river to protect area residents.
He said the gravel build-up over the years “is putting us at greater flood risk.”
“Gravel removal must take place, but it must take place in an environmentally safe way,” he said.
Earlier, Penner said he would support a call by the Pacific Fisheries Conservation Council to create an interim task force to protect the environmental, cultural and recreational values of the river reach between Hope and Mission.
The council recommended the “multi-agency” task force until a comprehensive river management plan can be designed. But local and regional governments have been lobbying for just such a plan for years without firstname.lastname@example.org