Work on a 176 million dollar permanent Fishway at the Big Bar landslide site is scheduled to begin this winter.
Back in November 2018, over 110,000 cubic meters of rock fell off the cliff face and into the Fraser River 50 kilometers west of 70 Mile House, 75 kilometers southwest of 100 Mile House.
Gwill Roberts, Director of Big Bar Landslide Response for DFO said there are many elements to the construction process of the permanent fishway.
Roberts said the immediate work is to continue the completion of the permanent fishway design, mobilize the crews and equipment that they need at the site, and install a temporary camp so workers can access the site more easily.
“The prep work and the in-river work we hope to commence in January. The construction will continue for as long as possible in early 2021 and will continue in the winter of 2021 and into 2022 and we’re hoping that we can complete construction by the start of salmon migration in 2022”.
Roberts added that the best time to work in the river is in January, February, and March during low water flows.
“So the water levels recede, we get significantly less water coming through the canyon. It’s possible to operate machinery, it’s possible to isolate parts of the river, dry them out and start the preparation for this structure”
We asked Roberts if he could explain what a fishway does.
“If you think of a river that’s flowing at high volume and the current is too strong, what a fishway does it tempers that velocity of the water and it allows fish to move up through an area that would be impassable otherwise”.
Roberts noted that there’s a permanent fishway at Hells Gate to move fish through an area of the Fraser River that was significantly altered after blasting because of railway construction in the early 1900s that changed the river.