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Hello all. This is something that some you you may already be aware of, for those that don't here is a brief summary of the potential disaster looming for steelhead and salmon in the Cheakamus river. There is a proposed development of a golf course, 60 condo (i believe this number to be correct) and ski resort right on Brohm river crossing it if i remember correctly 40 plus times (the river is only 4km long). This development would mean a certain end for an already decimated run of steelhead in the Cheakamus. A very large majority of the few remaining steelhead as well as coho and a few other salmonids including cutthroat trout utilize the extremely nutrient rich habitat in Brohm River. In a nut shell the problem this development creates is this: Water will be drawn out of the river, a problem this system already faces from a damn on its main flow the Cheakamus. Amazingly enough fish need water to survive it is predicted that the mid to late summer flows could be reduced up to 62%. Fertilizer from the golf course will run off into Brohm. Being an incrediably nutrient rich system already it would essentially suffocate all life in this river. The fish in the Cheakamus have been dealt enough hardships in the last 20 years with other habitat loss, water management problems from BC hydro, the caustic soda spill in 2005..which has resulted in a reasonable amount of funding for projects to help fish out in this area. A development like this must be fought against!!! I have started a petition at Sea-Run Fly and Tackle, Highwater Tackle in North Van. and will be contacting other tackle shops tomorrow I will update as necc. I am also accepting e-mail letters of support to my email address [email protected] I also have an e-mail that I am more than happy to forward to any wanting to review of a more detailed outline of what is proposed in Squamish. One of the e-mails also contains a link to a website for public opinions on this project it is a government website. I have been told by Rod Clapton of the British Columbia Federation of Driftfishers that response on this site is very valuable. For any one helping out by signing a petition via e-mail please include your name and address and a brief comment on your views. Thank you very much to anyone who has the time to help with this.
Brian Braidwood
President Kingfishers Rod and Gun Club
 

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As someone intrigued and somewhat involved in the development industry I was interested in finding out more on this project. Checked out the executive summary regarding the environment impact assessment. Here are a few tidbits for those not interested in wading through the pages. ( I basically stuck to reading about the development and its relation to the fish bearing and non-fish bearing streams. Did not look at impact to land based animals or plants or economic/social impacts/ benefits)

This is a large phased development with final build out of 5150 resort based rooms as compared to Whistler which currently has 5200 rooms. An additional 2350 housing units are projected. In addition to the ski hill a 36 hole golf course with practice facility is proposed. The development is perceived/marketed as an all-season resort, hence the golf course, but they are also promoting, among other things, fishing!

The project is being developed/marketed as "Green" and sustainable. Quote "It will celebrate and enhance the local and regional environment" and "The detailed Master Plan describes a project that is intended to be sustainable".

Annual water requirements for the resort/development include 800,000m3 for potable water and residential and commercial irrigation. 500,000m3 for snow making and 300,000m3 for golf course irrigation. Surface water from run-off above the resort is the preffered source of water. This will be achieved by diverting several tributaries to the Brohm River.

Several options for sewage treatment and disposal are mentioned with the preferred method being on-site treatment with the liquid effluent being used for golf course irrigation and the excess being discharged in the Cheekye river. During low irrigation demands for the golf course effluent will be stored in ponds located on the golf-course to be used during peak months.

The report does not understate the importance of the Brohm River as habitat to salmonids and other fish species, particularly steelhead. "Previous sampling in a number of squamish/Cheakamus River tributaries identified Brohm River as an extremely important contributor to the squamish watershed's juvenile steelhead population". 4.8 km of the Brohm River from its confluence with the Cheekye are identified as fish bearing with the remainder non-fish bearing due to impassable obstructions.

Potential impacts to fish habitat are identified as
  • encroachment from the development onto riparian areas
  • stream crossings
  • water withdrawal

"However due to mitigation measures proposed no significant impacts are anticipated".


Riparian Areas
Riparian area setbacks are listed as 50m (i believe these are measured from the top of bank or ravine) to fish bearing streams and 30m to non-fish bearing streams in residential/commercial areas. On the golf course these setbacks are 15m to fish bearing streams and 5m to non-fish bearing streams.

Stream Crossings
In reference to stream crossings, clear span bridges and open bottom culverts are to be used on fish bearing portions of the streams. Where Riparian habitat is lost due to construction of the bridges restoration or habitat improvement is required so there is no net loss.

Water Withdrawal
"With mitigation, changes in the hydrograph of the mouth of Brohm River will be negligible". These mitigation measures include a comprehensive water conservation program to minimize both potable water and snowmaking requirements. As well as a water withdrawal program designed to minimize changes in low flows and in the natural hydrologic regime.

In essence to maintain minimum flows in Brohm River during late summer early fall the water required for snow making (500,000m3) will be stored during peak flow periods, freshets. Combined with reuse of sewer effluent for golf course irrigation, restrictions on irrigation of commercial and residential properties and mandated low flow plumbing they are saying that all Fisheries and Oceans and Provincial policies for minimum in-stream flow can be met.

"Total project potable water and snow making demands (1,300,000m3) represent less then 8% of the annual discharge of the combined diversion locations (17,000,000m3). For Brohm river, at the mouth, the maximum percent of the monthly discharge withdrawn will be 4.17%".

Fascinating read. Looks like this report supports the project based on impact to fish habitat, not sure about impact to other species or ecosystems.

Sounds like the developers want to do a "green development" which is typical these days for large developments as it provides instant marketing and possibly less friction from environmental groups. You just have to watch out for greenwashing. How damaging would it be if they are marketing a green sustainable community yet potentially kill off a run of fish.

Not sure what the next stage would be after the environmental assessment however if they still require zoning and permits from the regional district perhaps a lot of local political pressure can be used to ensure, through development agreements and covenants, that specific targets are met in regards to water conservation and maintaining water quality and discharge standards in all affected streams. Perhaps the Regional District can mandate a LEED community. Many developers are doing this regardless. Or the regional district could ask for a net gain to fish habitat ie have the developer contribute $$ to improving fish habitat in the area. The developer is afterall promoting fishing as one of the actvities to draw people to the area.

Oh yeah. One name that came up in the report was Luigi Aquilini. Not sure of his involvement or relation to the project but is this one of the Canucks owners?
 

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By Pslaney Aquatic Science Ltd.

"The proposed ski area and resort footprints encompass a substantial portion of Brohm River watershed and therefore the development has the potential to alter the hydrology/stream flows, geomorphology, water quality and trophic productivity of the Brohm River system, historically a regionally significant steelhead and salmon nursery stream for the Cheakamus River"

At significant risk from the Brohm resort development are excessive water
withdrawals during peak seasonal daily use in late-winter and particularly
during mid- to late-summer. Significant river flow withdrawal for the
Garibaldi at Squamish project would result in deficient steelhead rearing
and spawning flows as development of the resort phases upwards.
Assuming a peak daily water withdrawal of 2-3 times the average annual
withdrawal, and insufficient storage in reservoirs and no external water
source, mid- to late-summer flows of Brohm River could be reduced 22-
34% to 42-62% (the former based on adopting water conservation similar
to that of Sun Peaks resort near Kamloops). Under conditions of a global
warming trend, minimum-flow risks are exacerbated. Storage of excess
water in five small steep-terrain reservoirs (including two for potable water)
for withdrawal during these low flow periods is planned and would reduce,
but not eliminate seasonal risks to fish habitat. More recently, project
developers are considering the potential for water supplementation from
Cheakamus River groundwater (G. Stewart, Enkon Environmental, per
comm., July 15, 2008). Selection of pumped external water source would
be a best-management-decision for both the Brohm fish resource and the
proposed resort, as results-based monitoring could only detect a post-
impact water-supply crisis.

A second significant risk is excessive eutrophication of an extraordinary
phosphorus-rich river system that is currently productive and nitrogen
limited. Unless moderated, nitrogen run-off from fertilized residential lands
and golf courses, as well as from erosion of disturbed volcanic-enriched
soils, has the potential to over-enrich Brohm River, potentially degrading
salmonid habitats as organic matter accumulates over time. Proposed
use of treated liquid waste as fertilizer for golf courses or other land sites
would elevate this risk substantially. Currently, periphyton and grazing
benthic insects are in healthy equilibrium, sustaining a diverse community,
which is very highly dominated by mayflies, stoneflies and caddis flies at
base of the salmonid food chain.

There is also broad-scale risk from hillslope land clearing, road
construction, and multiple stream/gulley crossings, resulting in significant
transport of fine sediments and other road-source pollutants, unless
systematically and intensively managed using “low impact development”

The development was projected to extend over 15
to 25 years for completion, and utilize 17.5 km of existing logging roads plus
construct 17.9 km of new mountain roads (Figure 2, 3). ***thats a lot of time for things to go wrong for the river in my opinion*****

The development was estimated to result in an average production of 2,200 m3 of
sewage per day (to a maximum of 5,060 m3•sec-1). As of 2007, the preferred
option is to pipe treated sewage (treatment type not specified) to the Cheekye
River, with partial disposal on Brohm lands for irrigation of two golf courses
during the vegetative growing season (Figure 3) (G.Stewart, Enkon
Environmental, per comm. 2008). A second more costly option is to pipe the
sewage to an upgraded Mamquam River Wastewater Treatment Plant, which
discharges into the lower Squamish River.

As a result of past highway encroachments of the river channel
and a lengthy logging land-use history, a more up-to-date fish habitat
assessment is needed, as there may be potential risks of further salmonid habitat
impacts associated with reactivation of land-use activities involving renewed road
construction and logging, stream crossings, land-clearing and excavation, water
withdrawals and disposal of storm and waste water.

Garibaldi Resorts proposed a total water use of 1,600,000 m3 per year to
accommodate domestic and commercial uses, snow making and golf course
irrigation. As divided by 365 days per year, 24 hours per day, 60 minutes per
hour and 60 seconds per minute, this equates to an average annual flow
withdrawal of 0.051 m3•sec-1 (1.8 cfs). Another estimate of Brohm water use by
the project proponent is 491,260 gallons per day (or 0.027 m3•sec-1), which
appears to be the portion required for potable water for both domestic and commercial uses.

I'm sure that 491,260 gallons of water per day being drawn out of the river will be quite good for the fish in the stream especially in the summer if the flow gets to low is the resort going to shut down??????


Option 1: 22-34 % of upper Brohm River flows of 0.36-0.39 m3•sec-1 in mid
summer to early fall, and 8-13 % of an estimated Brohm minimum flow of
1 m3•sec-1 during late-winter to early-spring (February to April);

• Option 2: 35 to 52 % of upper Brohm River flows of 0.36-0.39 m3•sec-1 in
mid summer to early fall, and 13-20 % of an estimated Brohm minimum
flow of 1 m3•sec-1 during late-winter to early-spring (February to April);

• Option 3: 42 to 62 % of upper Brohm River flows of 0.36-0.39 m3•sec-1 in
mid summer to early fall, and 16-23 % of an estimated Brohm minimum
flow of 1 m3•sec-1 during late-winter to early-spring (February to April).

Accordingly, for all three options it is unlikely that the fishery flow target, as 30 %
of mean annual flow (MAF), could be met as proposed, unless proposed storage
in several headwater reservoirs are large-scale and/or an alternative pumped
water source is used to top up the primary reservoirs.
As Brohm River’s
headwater streams are exceptionally steep, such constructed reservoirs are apt
to support only limited storage. Accordingly, this suggests that a sizeable portion
of the required water for residences and golf courses would need to be pumped
from a larger quality source, the nearby Cheakamus River or its floodplain
groundwater. An external alternative water source would ensure the
sustainability of the regionally significant steelhead and salmon resource of the
Brohm River, and ensure that a water demand-fish flow crisis does not develop
over time as the resort ramps up to full-scale.

This is unusual for coastal streams which are
either P-limited with undetectable ortho-P or if lake-headed both inorganic P- and
N-limited, with concentrations at or very near detection limits (Ashley and Slaney
1997). The 1995 sample had dissolved inorganic P and N concentrations similar
to the productive volcanics-based Blackwater and upper Dean rivers in the BC
Interior, in sharp contrast to that of any south coastal stream in British Columbia
which are typically infertile/oligotrophic. In the Squamish system alone which is
more greatly influenced by volcanic geology than elsewhere on the South Coast,
dissolved inorganic P concentration in Brohm were 2-to 8-fold higher than other
streams/rivers (McCusker et al. 2002).


A small amount of nitrogen leachate, increasing N-concentration by 2-3 fold from
the resort development may actually reduce the percentage of blue-green algae
in favour of greens and diatoms which would be grazed readily by an abundant
insect grazer community. However, a greater introduction of nitrogen from
nitrogen-rich fertilization and/or treated-waste fertilization of golf courses and/or
residential areas would generate unacceptably high algal biomasses, similar to
that documented in an experimental enrichment of the N-limited Sheep Creek in
the Salmo watershed in summer of 2005 (field observations by the author in
2005, and S. Decker per comm. 2006). As another example, Lohman (1991)
conducted experimental N-enrichments of an N-limited southern US stream and
measured several-fold increases in algal biomass. Similarly, unacceptably high

BROHM RIVER: A PRODUCTIVE AT-RISK SALMONID SYSTEM p. 13
algal biomasses would likely occur in the phosphorus-rich Cheekye River unless
treatment of liquid waste removed much of the nutrients, particularly nitrogen.
Thus, potentially excessive N-enrichments of Brohm River (and Cheekye River)
need to be re-examined by Enkon Environmental as part of the proposed resort’s
environmental impact assessment.

Historically, habitat impairments have degraded habitat conditions, yet there is a
recovery trend from past logging-related storm impacts. However, highway
encroachment has occurred over such a high proportion of the length of the
Brohm River, that it continues to significantly confine the channel, reducing
useable juvenile salmonid rearing habitat and spawning gravel retention(Appendix 1C-I).

There may be further risks of debris flows from old logging road crossings of
steep drainages which are proposed for ski hill access and/or resort residences.

In addition, a significant storm debris-flow has traveled down the east main
tributary (river entry at km 2.35 km in the canyon) (Figure 9a). Fortunately, it did
not overly degrade the lower-most productive channel, as the downstream 200 m
remains functionally intact with old-growth LWD (log and woody debris important habitat) retaining sedments in some of
the step-pools (Figure 9b). Lower slopes of this tributary watershed, including
those of Figure 9a, are projected for Phase 2 resort development.


In summary, application of “low impact development (LID1)” guidelines for
storm-water management (as outlined by Hinman 2005) should reduce risks to
salmonid habitat and sustain healthy steelhead and salmon stocks in Brohm
River and its fish-bearing tributaries. This will require integrated community
efforts, paired with ongoing education because land ownership will varies over
time. Ownership covenants may be needed to ensure low impact land-use
development practices are sustained, plus restrictive clauses may need to be
routinely publicized and enforced via bylaws. Furthermore, global warming
trends will constitute an added challenge, as El Nino’ flood and drought events
become more frequent over time.

Sorry for all the info thanks for those that have taken the time to read what i have put on here. Yes Vanislealoha the end of the report states that LID SHOULD reduce risks of being harmful. Words like should and reduce scare me, the train that was carrying caustic soda that dumped into the Cheakamus should not have done that, when the Coquihalla highway was being constructed there should not have been poison dumped into the river killing most everything in it. When projects and construction occur right beside a river things happen that developers to not intend to have happen but the reality is accidents do happen and when they do there is often no rewind button on the affects. I do know one thing for certain if this project doesn't go ahead there will be no negative effect on Brohm river and the fish in the Cheakamus. My Grandfather and my father chased steelhead on this river system as do I certainly hope i'm not going to be the last generation that gets to pursue them up there I already know that I am seeing the worst of the steelhad population up there. The fact that I have been told by inside sources that if the project happens with out extra measures to protect the fish it will certainly be the end of them!!!! I would not be hearing comments like this or having to start petitions if this project wasn't happening. Theres enough development in Whistler let the people keep going that extra 55km if they want to ski. If they want to Golf theres already a course in Squamish, Furry Creek and Whistler. As far as I am concerned this project is just another greedy rich person wanting to become wealthier with no regard to the well being of what makes this Province great its environment!!!! Brian Braidwood
 

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Sorry for the bold letters at the end here don't know why that happened on thing i forgot to mention is just because the resort is promoting fishing doesn't mean it cares about the stream it is destroying it could be promoting the many lakes in the area that is much easier for them to promote as there is always fish in them because of stocking programs. The Vancouver Canucks promote that we are all Canucks but I'm pretty sure i don't get a cent by the organization for working in a fishing tackle store!
 

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Thanks for the info Junior. I did not really state my opinion regrading the proposed devlopment in my previous post as it was getting too long and was merely for information only as there was not much in JBJ post to go by.

I have never fished the area and more than likely will probably never fish it in the future but as a wannabe developer I was interested in finding out more about the project as well as the environmental assessment procedures.

As I read the report by Enkon (I think) I fully believed that there would probably be another report that somewhat contradicted what they were saying and would be written to express more of the risks inherent to the Brohm River posed by the development. It all depends on who comissions the report right? The Pslaney Aquatic and Enkon report both state that low impact to fish habitat in Brohm River can be achieved, and for the record I believe this is possible as well, however it may or may not be possible with the current plan.

My thoughts on the current proposal were why try to meet minimum flow requirements as set out by Fisheries and Oceans and Provincial standards. Why not require higher standards in case of emergencies such as drought. I even wondered if no flow changes would be possible ie through piping in water if there is a nearby source, or treating the sewer effluent to a higher standard than proposed (I believe it is technically possible) so it could be put directly back into the Brohm River - where the original source of water came from, and therefore keeping the hydrology of the river the same or very similar. As it is I believe they are piping it to the Cheekye, Which I assume has a higher flow than the Brohm and therefore the effluent would be diluted which in turn means they have to treat it to a lesser degree ie saving money.

This sounds like a massive development therefore I assume they will eventually have the revenue to support servicing the property in a way that allows for no impacts to fish habitat on the Brohm regardless of the increase in cost.

Despite my belief that technically it can be done, and probably financially as well, I FULLY agree with you that the river would be at higher risk during and after construction of the development as compared to no development. Accidents do happen. I guess they (approving officers) have to determine if the risks outweigh the benefits or vice versa.
 

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The east side tributaries of the are EXTREMELY nutrient rich and precious to the sustainability of steelhead and coho stocks in the greater Cheakamus River. It would be a shame to see these streams further degradated.

It is just not realistic to believe that a development of this magnitude would not have an adverse effect on water flows/quality. Nothing is more infuriating than seeing them try and put a positive spin on all of this.

If it ain't broke, don't fix it.
 

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Dear River Advocates,

After some delays, Global/BCTV News is doing a feature tonight (Friday, Nov. 14th) on the current effort to protect Brohm Creek near Squamish (the most productive steelhead stream in BC in terms of densities of fish).

If not planned correctly, Brohm Creek could be significantly affected by the massive proposed "Garibaldi at Squamish"
all-season resort. Excessive water extraction is a particular concern.

Mark Angelo of the BCIT Fish and Wildlife Program and Al Lill of Living Rivers are interviewed.

Watch Global/BCTV News tonight at 6:00 pm and spread the word...
 
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