Water Quality Assurance during restoration of Ellis Creek Sediment Basin
Organization: Penticton Indian Band
The project site is located on Ellis Creek, Penticton BC, at the sediment catchment basin located 90m upstream from the creek's confluence with Okanagan River. The 150 m long sediment catchment basin is managed by the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development for flood protection and safety purposes.
This sediment catchment was constructed near the creek's mouth in the 1950's, along with river channelization works, to retain transported sediment and prevent it from entering Okanagan River. However, the sediment basin is bordered on the downstream end by a rock weir that is not passable by fish species year round (partial migration barrier). In low flow conditions, the weir prevents indigenous salmonids to access the creek to spawn. In addition, the on-going process of sediment extraction; overtime, negatively impacts the local environment and initiates extensive maintenance requirements. Each time the sediments are cleaned out, the area is drastically altered, disturbing the water quality, the equilibrium of the creek and adjacent riparian vegetation. With time, fish populations and habitat diversity decline, negatively affecting the neighbouring ecosystems.
The Okanagan Nation Alliance and Penticton Indian Band are working in collaboration with the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development and other stakeholders to re-design the current sediment catchment basin creating fish passage year round. This will improve the overall creek habitat and allow the creek to function more naturally. The project will also allow the Ministry to improve their routine sediment extraction removal procedures and site access (easier process), reducing the impacted footprint on adjacent riparian vegetation and maintaining river water quality during extraction works. Overall, the project will provide a more natural and healthy ecosystem for the community to enjoy.
Overall project main objective:
Restore access to Ellis Creek stream habitat for migrating salmonids (targeted species: Rainbow Trout, Steelhead, Kokanee, Sockeye, Chinook).
Overall project goals:
Provide annual fish passage at the migration barrier at all flows.
Improve spawning habitat and overall habitat diversity while opening up 4 km of stream habitat (i.e. the section of the creek below Ellis Intake Dam).
Allow for easier maintenance of the sediment basin, reducing the impacted footprint on adjacent riparian vegetation and improving water quality during extraction works, with no increase in costs or public safety liability.
Allow for permanent riparian vegetation to be planted, making the area more aesthetically pleasing for the community, as well as, improving fish and wildlife habitat and ecosystem values of the site.
Strengthen relationships between First Nations, governments and stakeholders through open dialogue, a collaborative approach, work planning meetings, and specific problem-solving sessions.