Resource: Speaking for the Salmon: Groundwater and Salmon

Filed In: . Posted by Trish Hall on

Authors / Publisher: Stan Proboszcz and Craig Orr, Watershed Watch Salmon Society for Continuing Studies in Science, Simon Fraser University

Date: March 6, 2007

PDF: Speaking for the Salmon: Groundwater and Salmon


Water is essential to salmon. Yet water is also undervalued and generally threatened by weak or non-existent legislation and a myriad of human activities (including climate change). While BC’s “Water Use Planning” process is a step in the right direction in recognizing and affirming water’s value to fish, BC’s Water Act is antiquated in its recognition and protection of fisheries values. Nor does the Water Act adequately protect BC groundwater resources, the value of which can only increase.

This omission is a serious oversight. Groundwater is increasingly under threat from development and climate change. Groundwater is also increasingly recognized for its vital role in the ecology of salmon—and in the proper functioning of ecosystems in general.

Since 1998, many salmon conservation issues have been addressed through Simon Fraser University’s Speaking for the Salmon seminar series. It seemed a natural fit for the Speaking for the Salmon venue to again host an enclave of interested and knowledgeable participants, whose one-day task was to discuss our collective understanding of the issues, assess our progress in protecting critical groundwater and fisheries resources, and provide suggestions on what must be improved.

Specifically, the main objectives of the meeting were to:

  • Discuss critical issues and geographic areas relative to groundwater and salmon in BC;
  • Provide an update on the state of groundwater legislation in BC;
  • Agree on steps needed to improve consultation around water and salmon, and on better ways to protect groundwater resources important to salmon.


The meeting was structured thusly.  A panel of experts opened the discussion on the above points. Their presentations are included as part of the day’s record. Two case studies were then presented, and a representative of the provincial government’s Water Stewardship Branch updated the audience on the ministry’s progress on revising the Water Act. The participants then engaged in a wide-ranging discussion on issues raised in the meeting, and made recommendations on water protection and stewardship.


This meeting (and the supporting background material) was sponsored by the Walter and Duncan Gordon Foundation and hosted by Continuing Studies in Science, Simon Fraser University, and Watershed Watch Salmon Society.

We wish to thank Laurie Wood and Jennifer Penikett from Continuing Studies in Science at Simon Fraser University, for organizing help and for formatting the proceedings, Tanis Douglas, Watershed Watch Salmon Society, for preparing and presenting case studies, Lori McQuid, Watershed Watch Salmon Society, for taking notes and other assistance, the panelists for excellent presentations, and all the participants who took time from busy schedules to contribute to this workshop.