A unique population of trout may have been wiped out after a construction accident at a BC Ministry of Transportation highway project contaminated a creek near Horseshoe Bay.
Seventy-six cutthroat trout — likely the entire population in West Vancouver’s Larson Creek — are all dead after a spill on Monday from a construction site working on ground stabilization.
“Their gills are full of siltation…which is basically wet cement,” said West Vancouver Streamkeeper Society president John Barker.
“They’ve lived here all their life for generations and generations. They don’t leave, they stay here, they’re limited as to where they can go. If they get swept below a certain area they never get back to where they were. When you have a kill, what’s going to rebuild that run?”
It’s believed the spill — a slurry of cement mixed with water — was released after a pressure test on some equipment caused erosion and led to water entering a culvert, then getting into the creek.
The BC Ministry of Transportation called the incident unexpected and unacceptable.
“Effective immediately, additional measures have been put in place to further protect the environment: the water disposal area has been stabilized and covered so that no additional erosion occurs, and from now on all excess water will go through a treatment system before it is released,” the ministry said in a statement.
Barker thinks the construction contractor “should pay the price for this conduct.”
He says he’s concerned that cutthroat trout “may never come back, that’s the risk.”
“If everything’s gone, we’re dead in the water and we’ve lost a creek and a population of trout.”
Both the provincial and federal governments are investigating the spill. At this point it’s unclear if there will be any charges.