Groundwater Habitat Interactions for Interior Fraser Coho

The four systems (Nicola, Coldwater, Deadman, Louis) being studied have a long history of critically high temperature regimes and low flows during the summer months. Results from past study years have established a foundational understanding of the importance of groundwater upwelling areas as thermal refugia habitat for Endangered (COSEWIC) juvenile Interior Fraser (IFR) coho during times of lethal peak mainstem temperatures. In 2010 the focus of the study moved to determining characteristics of our confirmed groundwater upwelling areas. Identifying these areas will contribute to the maintenance of their functionality, and efforts to maintain this critical habitat. Developing more information about groundwater upwelling areas (rates of contribution, temperature, dissolved oxygen, depth/direction of flow) will contribute to the improvement of groundwater management and, as a result, IFR coho conservation. The Conservation Strategy for Coho Salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch), Interior Fraser River Populations1 identifies a number of knowledge gaps. This study is addressing two of those: (1) determining what constitutes as important habitats for IFR coho populations, and (2) the relationship between, and importance of, groundwater and surface water sources. Objectives for 2010 were:

1. To quantify and define characteristics of groundwater infiltration into confirmed groundwater upwelling areas.

2. To identify land status use of land associated with groundwater upwelling areas, and their potential vulnerabilities.

3. Attempt to describe possible sources of confirmed groundwater upwelling areas.

4. To identify particular site(s) for protection/enhancement measures.

After all equipment was ordered and some was received, and just prior to implementation of the study (field work), the Secwepemc Fisheries Commission (SFC) informed the NTA they would not be able to participate in the 2010 study. During installation of the piezometers unexpected/unknown geological characteristics of the study site prevented installation of the piezometers. Therefore the study was not conducted in 2010.

1 Interior Fraser Coho Recovery Team. 2006. Conservation Strategy for coho salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch), interior Fraser River populations. Fisheries and Oceans Canada.