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Project Watershed says high river flows, king tides not a concern for restoration efforts

Recent rains, snow melt and wind storms combined with king tides saw flood risks increase. However, the extra water is not a concern for a local restoration project.

According to BC Hydro stakeholder engagement advisor Stephen Watson, there was a close flooding scenario on Dec. 26 and 27 where the Courtenay River flows under the 5th Street Bridge hit 270 cubic metres per second and 180 cubic metres per second respectively.

The high flows combined with king tides caused water to surpass the steel piling wall outside the Kus-kus-sum restoration project.

However, Project Watershed executive director Caitlin Pierzchalski says that despite new planting in the area, there are not many concerns with the flooding.

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“The parts that have been recontoured have been designed to be inundated twice daily based on the tides,” said Pierzchalski. “The end goal for the site is to remove that steel piling wall and allow for this inundation to happen naturally.

“The concern with the flooding isn’t actually how it affects the restoration, but we just want to make sure that the restoration doesn’t affect the turbidity levels in the Courtenay River itself.”

Pierzchalski adds erosion prevention measures are in place such as silt fences and silt curtains and a swale that aims to slow the water down so it drops sediment before going into the river.

Flooding has slowed down the ability to plant and more planting may be done in the spring according to Pierzchalski.

More king tides are predicted to happen later from Jan. 22 to 26 with high tides of 5.3 to 5.4 metres.

Pierzchalski adds they will be monitoring the erosion and turbidity controls at the project to mitigate any impacts to the Courtenay River.

Project Watershed has been working on restoring the Kus-kus-sum area of the K’ómoks Estuary, which became a sawmill in the 1940s.

It ran until 2006, after having multiple ownership changes and running into difficulties economically.

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