Fish and Aquatic Programs

Downstream fish habitat enhancements

Protecting fish and the aquatic environment is an essential part of the Site C project. While the new reservoir will be able to support new and productive fish populations, we also know there will be changes to fish habitat, health and survival, and movement as a result of the project. 

That’s why we’ve developed a thorough range of monitoring and mitigation programs to address these changes.

Fish passage facilities

While Site C is being built, and after it starts operating, the project will affect fish's ability to migrate upstream past the dam site.

That’s why we’re building two upstream fish passage facilities – a temporary one during river diversion, and a permanent one during dam operation. These are being put in place so that fish can continue to migrate upstream and fulfill portions of their lifecycles in the Peace River and its tributaries.

Migratory fish are naturally attracted to fast-flowing water. With this in mind, the facilities are located at the outlet of the diversion tunnels and future generating station, where fish will be attracted to the high flows. At the facilities, we’ll capture and tag the fish, before transporting them by truck upstream past the dam site. 

Habitat enhancements

We're creating new or enhanced fish habitats in the Peace River to support many fish species, such as mountain whitefish, bull trout and Arctic grayling.

Downstream of the dam site, the river levels will change following completion of the Site C project, which could cause areas to occasionally dry up and become unsuitable for the fish, algae and invertebrates that depend on permanently wetted habitats.

To counter this, we're increasing the amount of permanently wetted areas, by excavating the channels and placing habitat structures such as wood and boulders in the side channels to support fish in various stages of life.

In the Site C reservoir area we're also enhancing shoreline habitat through shoreline shallow water habitat development and riparian vegetation planting.

These enhanced shoreline habitats provide valuable food and shelter for juvenile fish.

Monitoring programs

Since the 1970s, we've been gathering and studying baseline conditions in the Peace River and many of its tributaries, from the Peace Canyon Dam to Alberta.

General surveys were followed by large scale inventories of fish communities. Now, we are completing studies on fish communities, fish habitats, fish movements, and genetic connectivity.

We developed the Fisheries and Aquatic Habitat Monitoring and Follow-up Program to monitor fish and aquatic valued components during the construction phase of the project and through the first 30 years of operation – all the way through to the year 2053.

This is a coordinated approach of 18 programs that monitor the abundance and life history of fish, movement of fish, and spawning, rearing, and feeding in the Peace River and its tributaries. 

Current studies

  • Peace River water and sediment quality monitoring: Monitoring water and sediment quality in the Peace River to evaluate the potential effects of the project.

  • Peace River bull trout spawning assessment: Assessment of bull trout spawning in known spawning locations in the Halfway River watershed through aerial and ground surveys. Fish counters and tag detection systems will be used to ground truth estimates of spawn timing, duration, and abundance. This will happen annually July to October.

  • Fish population indexing survey: Monitoring fish populations to provide measures of fish abundance and distribution in representative index sections of the Peace River and its tributaries. This work will occur annually July to September.

  • Fish stranding monitoring: Assessment of fish stranding risk in the diversion headpond and Peace River downstream of the dam site. This work will occur annually May to October.

  • Fish food organisms monitoring: Monitoring the production of fish food organisms in the Peace River as well as Williston and Dinosaur reservoirs.

  • Tributary mitigation opportunities evaluation: Identification of fish habitat enhancement opportunities through habitat assessments in Peace River tributaries.

  • Beatton River Arctic grayling status assessment: Monitoring Arctic grayling in the Beatton River to provide abundance estimates during the summer of 2018.

  • Small fish translocation monitoring: Monitoring small fish populations in the Peace River to determine project impacts on genetic structure, movement, and genetic exchange of these species. This monitoring program will un until 2053.

  • Peace River fish habitat enhancement monitoring: Monitoring the effectiveness of Peace River fish habitat enhancement measures near the dam site construction area to confirm suitability of habitat for fish.

Learn more