Water Stewardship Information Sources

Citation Fleming, S.W. and E.J, Quilty. 2005. Whistler Valley Monitoring Program. Preliminary Assessment. Prepared for the Environmental Quality Section, Environmental Protection Branch, British Columbia Ministry of Environment, Surrey. Prepared by Aquatic Informatics Inc., Vancouver.
Organization Ministry of Environment
URL http://www.env.gov.bc.ca/epd/regions/lower_mainland/water_quality/reports/whistler_valley/whistler_summary.pdf
Abstract/Description or Keywords The River of Golden Dreams (ROGD) watershed encompasses approximately 48 square kilometers
within the Whistler valley, with a variety of land uses (e.g., residential and commercial development,
transportation infrastructure, recreational use, etc.) occurring within the watershed. The watershed
resources contribute significantly to the area's economy by attracting visitors interested in fishing,
swimming, canoeing and other recreational opportunities. In December 2001, the Resort Municipality of
Whistler (RMOW) developed a Watershed Management Plan (WMP) for the ROGD. This plan defines a
vision “to protect and restore aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems from the pressures of land use and
human activities within the watershed”. In working towards this vision, the WMP calls for increased
information on baseline conditions and the detection of areas of concern – these will provide a foundation
for effective mitigation.
In 2002, the British Columbia Ministry of Environment (MOE) installed automated water quality
monitors on the ROGD and on Crabapple Creek, a tributary to ROGD. These stations monitor stream
temperature, conductivity, pH, dissolved oxygen, turbidity, and water level near-continuously.
Automated temperature sensors (thermistors) were installed in nearby Whistler Creek. The automated
water quality monitoring program is supplemented with grab-sampling for investigation of a wider variety
of parameters than can be conducted with automated monitoring alone. The intent of the sampling
program is to: i) provide decision makers with data to feedback into the ROGD Watershed Management
Plan, and ii) collect data for the development of Water Quality Objectives within the ROGD watershed.
The objective of this report is to summarize and assess data collected to date, and to make
recommendations on how monitoring might be improved so that the program meets its objectives. In
doing so, we have:
(i) validated and corrected the automated data, where appropriate;
(ii) assessed stream temperature and turbidity risks to the aquatic environment, using
magnitude-duration based techniques;
(iii) determined potential impacts on ROGD and Crabapple Creek from road salting;
(iv) summarized and assessed stream chemistry (e.g., nutrients, metals, bacteria, etc.) for
compliance with applicable provincial and federal regulatory guidelines for (in general)
the protection of aquatic life.
Overall, the monitoring program to date has been successful. The automated monitoring stations have
performed relatively well, providing detailed information on stream processes. The grab sampling has
also been effective, though s ampling frequency needs to be increased to 5-times every 30 days, each
season. Analysis of the data collected to date suggests generally good water quality in all three rivers. Stream temperatures are well below those that could cause acute (lethal) risks to rainbow trout and
Kokanee (salmonids present). Chronic risks, as measured by potential reduction in growth, have been
generally low. Turbidity risks were also relatively low, with the majority of events rated as having minor
effect on fish. For assessment of the impacts of road salting, peak chloride concentrations were estimated
to be less than 1/3 of provincial and federal guidelines. This suggests that road salting during the winter
of 2003/04 had a minimal impact on the ecology of these streams. Bacterial indicators (fecal coliforms
and Escherichia coli) were elevated in all three streams, particularly in Crabapple Creek; however, levels
could not be compared directly to guidelines due to the frequency of sampling. It is likely that levels
in Crabapple Creek would have exceeded guidelines. Iron exceeded guidelines occasionally in all
three creeks, and copper and zinc exceeded guidelines occasionally in Crabapple Creek. Although these
metals are often associated with urbanization, they could also be natural and more sampling is necessary
to identify the sources. Sulfate exceeded the alert level for aquatic moss monitoring in Crabapple Creek
for six of 16 samples. Site-specific Water Quality Objectives for temperature and chloride have been
recommended. Additional Water Quality Objectives can be developed once additional years of data have
been collected.
Information Type report
Regional Watershed Howe Sound & Sunshine Coast
Sub-watershed if known River of Golden Dreams, Crabapple Creek, alta Creek
Aquifer #
Project status complete
Contact Name
Contact Email