Plea: keep Surrey streams clean for spawning salmon

SURREY — As salmon return to their spawning grounds in B.C., Surrey’s Salmon Habitat Restoration Program (SHaRP) is reminding the public to be careful of what they put down the drain.

"Whatever goes into a storm drain is going to go into a stream or a watercourse so we just need to be careful what we put down there," said Chelsea Nerpio, SHaRP co-ordinator.

In its current campaign, SHaRP is targeting landscaping materials like concrete and asphalt as well as the proper disposal of waste water from pools and hot tubs.

Nerpio said that with the latest rainfall, salmon will begin swimming into Surrey’s 1,400 kilometres of watercourses anytime now, making attention to water quality even more important.

"Usually they start coming up when the rain starts falling and I’m thinking by the end of September we are going to see Salmon within Surrey streams," she said.

Surrey’s waterways are spawning and rearing grounds for five species of salmon and trout. According to the city’s website, more than 900 Chum salmon have been counted in Bear Creek in one season.

Concrete and chemicals that are flushed down storm drains can contribute to raising the acidity level of the water. Nerpio said that because salmon can only survive at a narrow pH range, any changes can have a huge impact.

"It can affect their entire system … adding that into the water really affects their system and oxygen levels and their ability to spawn and swim upstream," she said.

SHaRP will be working with local landscaping, pool and hot tub businesses to ensure that any products and chemicals do not contaminate streams and rivers.

While the current publicawareness campaign targets specific materials other products like paint, pesticides/herbicides and soap used to wash cars can also impact fish.

"The best management practice for washing your car is to do it at a gas station where they actually have a catch basin that restricts the soap from going into the storm drain system. Or if they wash their car on their lawn it will allow the grass to pick up the soap before going into the storm drain," Nerpio said.

Nerpio is encouraging anyone who sees products being disposed of in an unsafe manner, or signs of contaminants in or around streams, to contact the city’s 24-hour Service Request Hotline at 604-591-4152.

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