Beaufort Watershed Stewards

Overview

Wilfred Creek

Mission

The Beaufort Watershed Stewards (BWS) work to promote the health and resilience of local watersheds on the east side of the Beaufort Range and to ensure the quality and quantity of fresh water for the future.

Our values include: watershed ecological integrity, evidence-based decision making, scientific rigour and open collaboration.

 

Stream Monitoring

Stream monitoring is a core component of our activities.  It provides baseline and ongoing data on the health of streams in the Beaufort watersheds.  

We have recently expanded our stream monitoring to include 10 streams that originate within the Beaufort watersheds.  For most of the year we sample biweekly and weekly during summer low flow and fall flush periods.  

Stream temperature is critical for fish bearing streams to ensure salmonid survival.  Turbidity gives information related to contaminants and erosion from human or natural causes.  Dissolved oxygen is required to support aquatic life and is an indicator of stream health.  

Specific conductivity provides a warning of possible salt water intrusion.

Our data are included in the provincial database that tracks the health of streams and watersheds throughout British Columbia. 

Our Six Citizen Science Programs

1. Surface Water: Stream Quality

Stream monitoring is a core component of our activities. It provides baseline and ongoing data on the health of surface water in 20 streams east of the Beaufort Range. We have three teams, or ‘pods’ that sample biweekly most of the year and weekly during summer low flow and fall flush periods.

    The Royston Pod samples Trent River, Beacon, Bloedel, Spence, Hart, Hindoo and Emily creeks. Fanny Bay Pod samples Tsable River, Cowie, Apple Cherry, Wilfred, Waterloo, Mud Bay and McNaughton creeks. And Bowser Pod samples Chef, Sandy, Thames, Nash, Hunts and Annie creeks.

    Stream temperature is critical for fish-bearing streams to ensure salmonid survival. Turbidity gives information related to contaminants and erosion from human or natural causes. Dissolved oxygen is required to support aquatic life and is an indicator of stream health. Specific conductivity provides a general indication of stream health.

    Our stream data are shared on the Canadian open-source database DataStream.

    2. Surface Water: Stream Flow

    While our monitoring program is about the quality of the water, flow measurement is about the quantity. It is critical to know trends in surface water flow as the climate crisis continues.

    We have gauging stations on a select set of streams at this time, and hope to expand this program as we welcome more volunteers.

    3. Groundwater: Well Levels

    The clear majority of residents within the Beaufort watersheds rely on well water. BWS monitors a selection of wells, both community and private. The digital monitoring equipment provides continuous data showing well level.

    For private wells, the data and graphs of trends over time are shared with owners.

    4. Watershed Cumulative Effects

    Our team is fortunate to include the expertise to conduct risk assessments of the relationship between forest practices and overall watershed health. The work follows the Province’s most recent Assessment Protocol for Aquatic Ecosystems in British Columbia.

    This protocol assesses the risk to water quantity, water quality and ecosystem function based on six core indicators. We published watershed health assessments reports for the Tsable River, Cowie, Wilfred, Waterloo and Mud Bay creeks. The reports are on our website (Resources > reports).

    5. Contamination: Tire Wear Toxins

    The BC Conservation Foundation is conducting a study of 6-PPDQ levels in eastern Vancouver Island streams. 6-PPDQ comes from tire degradation washing into streams and is lethal for salmon, particularly coho. We are one of the stewardship groups collecting data for the study. We sample before, during and after significant rain events. For more information, see www.tireweartoxins.com.

    6. Groundwater: Aquifer Mapping

    With our geophysics experts and university collaborations BWS is working to characterize aquifers the eastern slopes of the Beaufort Range. We have hosted summer students who apply resistivity surveying, geophysical methods and ArcGIS mapping to understand the depth, lateral extent and vulnerabilities of the fresh water aquifers that provide all of our drinking water. This is the first time that work to determine the extent and status of these aquifers has been conducted.  

    Community Outreach and Education

    We conduct town hall meetings, attend local fairs and markets, and participate in school environmental days.

    The Fanny Bay Flyer, Lighthouse online Newsletter, Down By the Bay (Union Bay), our website, Facebook and Instagram pages are our main methods for sharing information.

    BWS is now publishing with colleagues at the University of Victoria as the results from our collaborations are completed.