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Gibbons Creek – September 2, 2021

J. Hillaby and E. Gruhs

Background

Thanks to some generous support from the Pacific Salmon Foundation, the HRR Streamkeepers were able to buy some new field equipment, which included new water quality testers.  Thursday afternoon’s outing to Gibbons Creek (flowing west into Horsefly Lake near Millar Road) was an opportunity to apply the Streamkeepers Water Quality test procedures to try out the new gear.

We inspected the Gibbons Creek stream channel during very low water conditions and compared three locations: 

  • a lower site at the Millar Road bridge crossing;
  • a middle site upstream of the bridge about 2.5 km up the 4800 (Lemon Lake) Road; 
  • an upper site upstream of the Lemon Lake confluence, road access through the logging operations.

Take home messages

Despite the warm summer, the water in Gibbons Creek is nice and cold everywhere, measuring consistently between  9.7 to 10.8 oC at all stations – happy news for salmonids. The bad news is that there is very little of it, suggesting that it is  fed more by groundwater  than surface water.  It is likely that the wetted stream channel disappears in places, so expect that fish will get trapped.

According to the water chemistry, there is some pollution effect.  One indicator is oxidation reduction potential (ORP) measured directly by a pH/ORP tester.  Bluntly, ORP provides a number that relates to the stream’s ability to “clean up” contaminants.  A pristine stream should be in the hundreds, Gibbons Creek registered at minus 46 at two of three stations (we didn’t measure the lower site, still learning the equipment).  

Another indicator is the presence of algal blooms here and there, as we would expect from a combination of slow-moving water, livestock manure and sunlight.  The water is tea-coloured, but not cloudy, at all three sites.

What’s Next

Gibbons Creek contains coho salmon, which migrate upstream at least to the middle site.  We will think about the pollution issue, a double-check is warranted.  

Next week – Dillabough Creek falls.  September 9th, 2021 be outside SAWS at 1 pm.