Dogpound Creek is a well known trout fishery in the central part of the province of Alberta. This small stream is a tributary to the Red Deer River and it is home water to a thriving population of brown trout, and brook trout in the upper reaches.
Over the years, major restoration work has brought this fine trout stream back from the brink. Hundreds of thousands of dollars have been spent to fence the stream and landowners along its course have been encouraged to create off-channel watering sites for cattle. All of this work has been completed to restore the riparian habitat along the creek and improve the water quality that will benefit not only trout survival, but also water users downstream on the system!
In the late summer of 2012, while reading an article in the local newspaper, I was shocked to learn that Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development had issued a total of 8 Temporary Diversion Licences to three energy companies, to withdraw a total of 69,000 cubic metres of water from the Dogpound Creek, during the year of 2012.
The water withdrawl permits were issued on the following dates:
- Feb 13, 2012 – 8,000 cubic metres
- Mar 26, 2012 – 8,000 cubic metres
- Mar 26, 2012 – 3,500 cubic metres
- Mar 26, 2012 – 10,500 cubic metres
- Mar 26, 2012 – 7,000 cubic metres
- June 11, 2012 – 6,500 cubic metres
- July 18, 2012 – 3,500 cubic metres
- July 26, 2012 – 15,000 cubic metres
- Aug 1, 2012 – 7,000 cubic metres
What was really surprizing, was that 37,000 cubic metres was allotted for the months of Feburary and March, when the trout eggs from the previous spawning season were still incubating in the spawning habitats along the creek! Both of these months are when the water levels of the stream are at their lowest point of the entire year, yet SRD still issued the licences to the energy companies!
It seems ironic to me that one branch of the provincial government, SRD Fish & Wildlife, has taken extreme measures to protect the fishery of Dogpound Creek, while the other branch, SRD Water Resources, has issued water pumping permits that will have a negative impact on the habitat in the stream. Water provides habitat for trout, it is the environment in which they live their lives, so we must consider any loss of water in the Dogpound Creek, as the loss of fish habitat.
Fish habitat and the protection of it, is the responcibility of of the federal government’s Department of Fishes and Oceans, they are charged with protecting trout streams from any loss of habitat, under the federal fisheries act (Section 24). If there is any loss to fisheries habitat, those responcible must compensate for the loss. If there is any compensation for this water removal on Dogpound Creek, I am unaware of it!
For those that don’t know what happens to that water that was been removed from the Dogpound Creek this year; I can tell you that it was poisened with chemicals and pumped underground, for the extraction of hydro-carbons. It’s a hell of a use for clean water that has been stolen from a healthy trout stream!