Alberni Valley’s lakes and rivers still remain low after minimal fall rainfall following a severe summer drought across B.C.
The Alberni Valley reached Drought level 4 last month, causing a risk of salmon die offs. The drought level for the area has now gone down slightly to level 3, which means adverse impacts to ecosystem values are possible.
Dave Rolston, Tseshaht First Nations Fisheries manager, said although he hasn’t been out to check the levels of lakes and rivers as much as he did during the drought, he’s noticed groundwater being recharged and tributaries flowing somewhat, but not flooding.
Rolston said Sockeye have moved up in Taylor Arm and are spawning, although they’re about a month behind schedule.
“I haven’t been up the [tributaries] to check out what’s going on with the juvenile Coho in McCoy Lake watershed, but McCoy Lake outlet is flowing now,” Rolston said. “I’m assuming we’ve lost recruitment from last year as juveniles but also recruitment from this year.”
Rolston said it’s been an abnormal year with little rain occurring so far this fall.
“The Somass is still fairly low, the lakes are still pretty low, they’ve come up a foot or so since the rain but that’s about it,” Rolston said. “We really haven’t seen our fall rains yet, so hopefully other than Coho we haven’t lost too much fish this year, but it’s going to be hard to say.”
Rolston added that there’s “no normal” anymore when it comes to weather and predictions around climate change.
“We’ve got heat domes, we’ve got extended droughts, at this point we’ve got lack of heavy fall rains and the questions that we’re left with is how does that compare and what does that mean,” Rolston said. “The question is, what does that mean for our fish stock here… we just don’t know, we’re early.”
October in the Alberni Valley saw little rainfall, about 1/3 of the normal rainfall for the month. The first two weeks of November saw rainfall on six days totalling 46mm of precipitation altogether. Last November in the Alberni Valley, there was 314 mm of precipitation over the first 14 days and 504.8 mm for the entire month.
According to the blog alberniweather.ca, this October saw the high temperature average at more than 20 degrees Celsius, when historically the normal high temperature for the month would average around 14 or 15 degrees Celsius. This year was the highest in record since 1900.