The city dam is in the Mark Creek Watershed.

The city dam is in the Mark Creek Watershed.

City wants baseline assessment of watersheds

The watersheds should be looked at as ecosystems, Mayor McCormick says

After discussing continuing issues with urban deer with Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development Minister Doug Donaldson last week, discussion turned to watersheds, specifically the two that service Kimberley.

The city has two watersheds, Mathew Creek, which serves Marysville and Mark Creek, which serves the rest of Kimberley.

McCormick’s discussions with the Minister were not on the way they were being managed. The City has just renewed their Memorandum of Understanding with BC Timber Sales, who handle all the logging activity in the watershed, and McCormick says that relationship is good.

The MOU, McCormick says, is a comprehensive document on behaviours in the watershed and how logging happens.

But the City would like to take a more focused approach to managing the watershed, and that means managing it as an ecosystem.

“We have to look at the integrity of the watershed itself,” he said. “We need a baseline assessment of the watershed as an ecosystem so we can monitor the progression/regression of that ecosystem. By the time the water samples poorly, it’s too late.”

Kimberley does not have a filtration plant and to build one would be hugely expensive, and although the City’s official position is that there should be no activity in the watershed, the fact is that there is activity in it — logging, recreational use, a licensed trapper, hunting and more.

Maintaining the integrity of the watershed ecosystem is the city’s highest priority, McCormick says and therefore gaining an understanding of cumulative effects of all activity is important.

“We want to measure what the cumulative effects of activity are,” he said. “As it goes on, over time, we will be able to see what the effects are. If there are no effects it means were are managing responsibly.

“This is the direction we’d like to take. We were looking for support from the Minister for a baseline study.”

There are grants available for such a study, McCormick believes.

Once the baseline assessment is complete, the existing Integrated Watershed Management Plan would be modified to reflect the new path forward.