Creek flows are so low that fish are dying in the shallow water. (Okanagan Nation Alliance)

Creek flows are so low that fish are dying in the shallow water. (Okanagan Nation Alliance)

Low flows, high temperatures killing fish in Okanagan creeks

The drought conditions are threatening fish habitat in Okanagan creeks

Important creeks are a little too warm and a little too low for them to be healthy for fish.

That’s according to Okanagan Basin Water Board (OBWB) communications director Corinne Jackson.

The precipitation over the weekend didn’t make much of a difference, Jackson said.

“We were already in such a (water) deficit and we were already so dry due to the very hot temperatures and lack of precipitation, so it really didn’t make much of a difference,” she said.

“What we need, really, is a lot of precipitation to make up for our deficit and help the creeks.”

Jackson said there are a number of creeks that have been flagged as having low flows, including Shuttleworth, Vaseaux, and Nk’Mip Creeks in the south, Bessette Creek in the north, and Mission Creek in the Central Okanagan.

But these are just the ones that have been noticed and flagged. Jackson said there may be others that are experiencing similar bouts of low flows and warm waters. She said not only are the fish affected but the greater ecosystem as well.

“There have actually been fish kill noted at Powers Creek and Mill Creek here in the Central Okanagan,” she said.

“The fish just can’t possibly survive with this water… and when water levels drop too, that creates stress in terms of cool water and having enough water.

“With the hot temperatures we’ve been experiencing as well, it’s a double whammy and fish can’t survive.”

Jackson said that conserving water, reporting dead fish in the water, as well as unauthorized water diversions from creeks, are all important to do.

“Fish are important to the Okanagan people and their culture. It’s critical to tourism in our valley, as well as a food source,” she said.

If you see dead fish in creeks or an unauthorized water diversion, report it to the Conservation Officer Service at 1-877-952-7277.

READ MORE: Okanagan Lake hits lowest level since 2003

READ MORE: City of Kelowna ups water restriction enforcement as drought conditions continue


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B.C. DroughtConservationFishHeat waveOkanaganWaterWildlife