Resource: Review of groundwater-salmon interactions in British Columbia

Authors / Publisher: Tanis Douglas for Watershed Watch Salmon Society

Date: November 2006

PDF: Review of groundwater-salmon interactions in British Columbia


Groundwater is an important and often essential part of wild salmonid habitat. Yet, groundwater use is almost entirely unregulated in British Columbia, groundwater management rarely considers wild salmon, and British Columbia’s water policy focuses mainly on surface water.

To help foster understanding of surface-ground¬water interactions, and the proper management of water and fish, watershed watch has reviewed the following topics:

  • Surface and groundwater interaction related to fish habitat. The main concepts found in the literature regarding interconnectivity of surface and groundwater (as relevant to fish) are summarized.
  • Behavioural thermoregulation and redd site selec¬tion. Most literature reviewed in this category relates to groundwater upwelling areas in streams and lakes used by resident and spawning fish.
  • Artificial groundwater recharge, and groundwa¬ter use in fish habitat restoration. Groundwater can be made more accessible to fish by replenish¬ing aquifers (though fish are not usually the main driver for these actions), and by creating artificial groundwater-fed side channels to restore degrad¬ed river habitat.
  • Management and use of surface and groundwater with respect to fish. Here we review the provincial approach to management and use, and issues and approaches used elsewhere.
  • Groundwater-fish management needs. Management needs, approaches and issues are briefly summarized in this category.

This document is part of a Watershed Watch project on salmon and groundwater which includes three case studies, and a separate legal review of groundwater policy by the Sierra Legal Defence Fund:


This review is part of a larger project on groundwater and wild pacific salmon supported by the Walter and Duncan Gordon Foundation. This project would not have been possible without the encouragement and sup¬port of Linda Nowlan and Brenda Lucas. Craig Orr of Watershed Watch Salmon Society provided the vision and editing help, and helpful advice was received from Richard Bailey, Dean Watts and Don MacKinlay of Fisheries and Oceans Canada; Bruce Mcfarlane and Gwyn Graham of the BC Ministry of Environment; Rick Palmer of Gartner Lee Limited; and Stan Proboszcz of Watershed Watch Salmon Society.

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