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Droughtproofing work summer 2012: rolling out new waterline to replace old ones coming out of Little Morte Lake
General · 28th November 2012
Janice Mclean
Quadra's local Salmon Enhancement volunteers were busy in late spring and early summer, upgrading and repairing waterlines in the Hyacinthe Creek system. Our drought proofing program, begun in 2004, uses naturally stored winter and spring runoff in Mud Lake, Reed Lake, Little Morte Lake and one lower wetland to augment summer flow in Hyacinthe Creek when required. Drawdown of these sources in sequence, or together, is intended to maximize water delivery to lower reaches of Hyacinthe Creek during dry periods, and thus provide higher quality rearing habitat for coho fry.

Cool, cloudy and rainy weather through spring and early summer was helpful in keeping groundwater levels high. It looked as though we might not need to enhance the stream flow, but who could predict that we would enjoy warm sunny weather for the next three and a half months, or that the dryness would last through the Thanksgiving weekend?

Besides repairing and replacing waterlines, volunteers built a sandbag dam at the outlet to Reed Lake, to mimic the beaver dam that was there in previous years, and cleaned out a major debris blockage at the two large culverts under Hyacinthe Bay Road, with help from the Emcon road crew. Once the waterlines were primed, it was a matter of weekly inspections to watch for a drop in stream flow. Starting August 25th, waterlines were opened, monitored and adjusted weekly until fall rains began.

It is doubtful whether Hyacinthe Creek could have maintained a steady flow throughout the dry period without the extra water provided by the waterlines. The cool oxygenated water helped to support coho fry and trout, thus justifying the hard work that volunteers carried out to keep the system viable. A huge thank you is extended to the many QISES volunteers for their help with maintaining and monitoring the system.