"Committed to the restoration of wild Pacific salmon in mid Vancouver
Island watersheds through habitat restoration and community engagement"
"Committed to the restoration of wild Pacific salmon in mid Vancouver
Island watersheds through habitat restoration and community engagement"

Groundwater Mapping and Education Project Phase II

The Groundwater Mapping and Education Project began last year on a small scale and the report of that first phase is available here. The second phase will continue from Phase I by defining the location and geometry of the sand and gravel aquifers in the lower section of the Englishman River down to the estuary.


The need for groundwater information on Vancouver Island – and BC and in Canada – is crucial if we expect to protect our watersheds in light of climate change and population growth. Decisions about freshwater resources need to be made with a more complete understanding of its availability and how that is expected to change over time. This means that we have to fill in the many knowledge gaps that exist so that decisions about land-use and water extraction will not be made with incomplete information. This project will also encourage the public to learn more about their groundwater in order to protect the watershed from activities that could jeopardize its rich ecosystem.

The project is being led by groundwater expert, Dr. Gilles Wendling, Hydrogeologist, and will provide:

  1. Characterization of the aquifers (GIS): Vancouver Island University (VIU) will detail the interpretation of the subsurface in the ER watershed and generate detailed maps and cross-sections of interpreted aquifers and assumed water tables;
  2. Piezometric Assessment: Up to 20 data loggers will be installed in private wells located in aquifers to be characterized. The data loggers will record the fluctuations of the water table elevation;
  3. Characterization of the Surface Water Flow: Up to 10 gauging stations will be installed along the ER to collect information on surface water elevation, flow rate, and temperature. The gauges will be installed and regularly monitored by volunteers;
  4. Data Interpretation: With the newly collected information, GW Solutions and VIU will define a conceptual model describing where the aquifers are, how they connect to the ER, and the water flow between the aquifers and the ER.
  5. Public Education and Involvement: MVIHES will inform the public of the project through the local media, public presentations, displays and direct contact. It will interview local residents and seek their cooperation in voluntarily monitoring their wells. This public communication will be enhanced with the on-going public outreach conducted by MVIHES, which focuses on watershed protection and water conservation.

This project has been made possible with funding from RBC Blue Water Project, Real Estate Foundation of BC, and the Regional District of Nanaimo

Demonstration Rain Garden

The rain garden near Kwalikum Secondary School is still functioning well and looking beautiful. Rain gardens receive and treat storm water as it rushes off parking lots and roads toward the nearest watercourse - in this case, Beach Creek. The fish are spared the harmful chemicals and the excess of runoff during winter storm events that causes erosion and other habitat degradation in the creeks. The other side of the coin is, the water is allowed to seep into the ground where it belongs - recharging the aquifers and keeping creeks flowing in the summer.

Completed demonstration rain garden near Kwalikum Secondary School 

This project was made possible by the Town of Qualicum Beach, the Pacific Salmon Foundation, TD Friends of the Environment, MVIHES, and volunteers from Qualicum Beach Streamkeepers and Kwalikum Secondary students. 

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Centre Creek

The Centre Creek watershed is a sub-basin comprising 21 square km of Englishman River watershed. The river enters South Englishman River approximately 250 m before its confluence with Englishman River. Centre Creek’s fish-bearing length is 16.5 km which includes 5.2 km of anadromous habitat.  

2010centrecreekrestore.jpgThe entire watershed is owned by 2 forest companies. It has a long history of timber harvesting which has affected the health of the stream. MVIHES has been instrumental in establishing a long-range restoration plan for this sub-basin. 

A 2002 Overview of Fish and Fish Habitat by Clough and Morley found Centre Creek to have the highest abundance of juvenile fish in all the Englishman River watershed and was recommended for a more comprehensive assessment. Responding to that recommendation and the need for an action plan was “Restoration Plan: Detailed Salmon Habitat and Riparian Overview with Level B Prescriptions - Centre Creek Sub-Basin - Englishman River Watershed” completed in 2005 by Warren Warttig and Dave Clough.


cc oct 26_4.jpgRestoration projects started in 2005 include: 

  • An old smolt trap site was removed in Reach 1 (near the confluence).
  • Riparian Restoration was completed with approximately 400 trees planted, standing timber thinned and 30 wildlife cavity habitats created in trees and on ground.
  • Instream habitat was restored by anchoring Large Woody Debris (LWD) consisting of conifer stumps and on-site logs in the lower, anadromous reaches of Centre Creek. LWD is a natural way to protect the banks from erosion, plus narrow the stream channel to create riffles and deep shaded pools, thereby improving stream habitat productivity for coho and other salmonids 
  • Four test pits were dug in Reach 1 to determine feasibility of side channel development. The area was found to be not suitable for a side channel.
  • Fresh blowdown from the clearcut side of the creek left an area of approximately 30 meters at high risk of further failure, likely causing damage to high value salmon habitat in the form of sedimentation and loss of stable LWD. The stability of the bank and LWD was restored with ballast rock, stumps and cabling.

Restoration on this important tributary of the Englishman River continued in 2010 with funding from the Pacific Salmon Foundation and assistance from Copcan and TimberWest, the owner of the property.  Twenty-five pieces of LWD, plus 3 truckloads of rip rap were placed and cabled against an eroding bank in the lower reach of the river. This project was directed by Dave Clough of DR Clough Consulting and rehabilitates 100 square meters of bank and instream habitat.

At the request of the Pacific Salmon Foundation, we re-visited all of the restoration sites to assess the success of the restoration efforts.  On January 20, 2016 Dave Clough, the biologists who developed the restoration project, along with several MVIHES volunteers, conducted an assessment of the past decade of work. We were very pleased to learn that the rock and LWD structures are still in good condition. PLUS, the objectives of preventing steam bank erosion, and creating riffles and deep pools for fish habitat have been achieved. A very good outcome indeed!


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