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THE ROAD SALT AND PACIFIC SALMON SUCCESS PROJECT

ABOUT

The Road Salt and Pacific Salmon Success Project is investigating the effects that road salt may have on streams across the Vancouver Lower Mainland. Collaboratively with thirteen stream stewardship groups, the University of British Columbia (UBC), Simon Fraser University (SFU) , the British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT), and Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO), researchers and volunteers are exploring the impact of road salt on the development and physiology of coho and chum salmon and on the benthic invertebrates they eat.

28

 Creeks

13

Partnered Streamkeeper

Organizations

7

Researchers

7

Graduate

Students

1

Community

to Engage

OUR GOAL

Habitat degradation poses a significant threat to freshwater streams. Our goal is to determine the impact of road salt on aquatic ecosystems, with a particular focus on coho and chum salmon and the benthic invertebrate community that supports them. We strive to raise public awareness regarding the excessive use of road salt, with the ultimate objective of advocating for more stringent planning and regulations for how it is applied.
Aerial View of a Mountain River

HOW IT STARTED

The Stoney Creek Environment Committee (SCEC), a Streamkeeper organization in Burnaby, BC, monitored conductivity – a proxy for salt contamination – in Stoney Creek for over a decade and noted the occurrence of conductivity pulses that exceeded water quality guidelines, which appeared to align with road-salting events. Alan James, one of the SCEC’s dedicated volunteers, voiced his concerns to researchers at the University of British Columbia (UBC), Simon Fraser University (SFU), the BC Institute of Technology (BCIT), and staff at the Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) Pacific Science Enterprise Centre (PSEC). A consortium of researchers at the UBC, SFU, and BCIT, in collaboration with 13 stream stewardship organizations and PSEC’s Community Engagement Coordinator, was formed. The consortium, led by Dr. Chris Wood at UBC, submitted their research proposal to the NSERC Alliance Program and were awarded five years of funding for the Road Salt and Pacific Salmon Success Project in summer 2022. In its first year, the consortium established a network of 37 automatic conductivity loggers deployed in 28 creeks across the Vancouver Lower Mainland (VLM). With these loggers, devoted Streamkeeper volunteers continuously monitor conductivity and water temperature in their streams. Many have also performed benthic invertebrate and larval fish surveys in their streams, to get a better understanding of the health of salmon and invertebrate populations. Using the data collected by Streamkeeper partners, researchers at all three institutions have started laboratory and field experiments on the toxicity of salt to developing salmon and benthic invertebrates.

STAY UPDATED

Stay up-to-date with the latest news and progress of our research by subscribing to our newsletter. You will be notified on the project's research findings, upcoming events, and opportunities to get involved.

THANKS FOR SUBSCRIBING!

Salmonid Embryo (Carley Winter, UBC)

INTERESTED IN PROTECTING YOUR LOCAL STREAMS?

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