Salmon Cove River will never be the same
“Is the fresh water that once flowed by my home now the flow of waste that cannot sustain the growth of trout and salmon? Or am I suffering from delirium and now too cantankerous to think rationally?”
I’ve lived at the same address in Salmon Cove for all my youth and the majority of my adult life.
It is on the bank of the pond/river/ brook that runs from Beaver Pond, Forest Pond, and Big Pond continuing into Harry’s Pond before it empties its waters into Conception Bay as it passes Salmon Cove sands.
Before 1974, ponds in my area encouraged recreational activities providing hours of fond memories for the youth of Salmon Cove. I often played, in summer and winter months, near the brooks and ponds in the community.
The youth swam in the crystal water, ate the trout and salmon we caught, and, when needed, drank the water from the brook and pond.
Over the past two summers I have noticed some research taking place in the river near my home.
As part of this research a pamphlet has been placed in the local town office and I recently read this document, Salmon Cove River Atlantic Salmon Enhancement Project, completed by Amec Foster Wheeler, a company providing engineering services around the world. The pamphlet states: “Vale has undertaken multiple offsetting programs to compensate for losses of fish habitat due to the construction and operation of the processing plant.
As part of the offset requirements under the Canadian Fisheries Act, Salmon Cove River was identified for habitat restoration to improve access and fish numbers to an historic Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) run.
“Salmon Cove River was selected because it’s a Scheduled Atlantic salmon river with a relatively large drainage area (68 km square) but has a reduced Atlantic run.”
Since the installation of the lagoon (extended aeration) near Forest Pond I have witnessed the clarity of the fresh water deteriorate as it flows by my home and the stones that rest on the river bottom have developed a greenish growth that makes the bot- tom appear as a poorly kept lawn. The fresh water that I quickly drank as a child has become discoloured and smelly. I believe very few, if any, resident of Salmon Cove will eat any trout or salmon that may be hooked in this river system.
The pamphlet issued by Amec Foster Wheeler concludes: “A physical obstruction (vegetation overgrowth) at the outflow of Forest Pond in Salmon Cove River effectively eliminated upstream migration for Atlantic salmon and brown trout.
The obstruction was in place for at least 17 years before being removed in 2011.”
However, the research fails to realize that the physical obstruction began shortly after the Victoria landbased waste treatment lagoon was put in place in 1974.
Many residents of Salmon Cove predicted in 1974 that the destruction of the river system through Salmon Cove would happen and that waste from the lagoon would discolour the crystal water flowing through the town and foreign growth in the water would kill off all natural growth – trout and salmon.
The pamphlet suggests that the manual removal of blockage (tree growth) at the outflow of Forest Pond will greatly improve the migration up-stream for Atlantic salmon.
This may offer an immediate shortterm solution, however, it does not address the main cause of the blockage.
Amec Foster Wheeler fails to realize that the blockage will continue and will again reduce migration of the Atlantic salmon up-stream. It might be more beneficial if Amec Foster Wheeler realized that it offered a band-aid to a patient who needs a lung transplant.
Amec Foster Wheeler is correct in concluding that fewer fresh water fish (brook trout and salmon) are migrating through the water systems between Salmon Cove and Victoria. Further, it is also correct in realizing the growth of obstruction in the river system is having a negative effect upon the migration of salmon into the river system.
However, Amec Foster Wheeler did not ask the question: “What is causing the growth of obstruction in the river system?” Or, perhaps, it did not want to pencil-to-paper any such conclusion.
Is the fresh water that once flowed by my home now the flow of waste that cannot sustain the growth of trout and salmon? Or am I suffering from delirium and now too cantankerous to think rationally?
Harold Peach writes from Salmon Cove