Royal Roads students are on a mission to keep campus waterways healthy

Royal Roads students are on a mission to keep campus waterways healthy

A group of environmental science students at Royal Roads University are on a mission.

They’re taking a closer look at Hatley and Colwood creeks as part of their eight-month hands-on environmental consulting project that runs through August this year.

“We do check water quality, we will be doing some fish trapping this spring and we will be collecting sediment samples as well too,” says Ivan Niegas.

For Earth Day this year, Niegas walks along to collect samples from Hatley Creek which is one of a few creeks that flow down to the Esquimalt Lagoon.

“They do have the three major creeks that feed Esquimalt Lagoon,” adds Niegas. “Colwood Creek, Bee Creek and Selleck Creek, and then there are some minor spring-fed creeks as well, such as this one.”

Checking water flow and quality is one way of assessing the health of the aquatic habitat and fish are a good sign that a creek’s ecosystem is intact and healthy.

Eric Buiter, another student working on a separate biodiversity project tells CHEK that fish, like the cutthroat trout that exist in the creek, require cool and clear waters to be able to spawn.

“Increased runoff and sedimentation are the things we are trying to monitor and make sure there’s exposed gravel for them to nest, otherwise if they get covered up they could actually suffocate the eggs due to sedimentation,” Buiter adds.

This water monitoring project builds upon previous research efforts from 2019 which will provide them valuable historical data to better understand the state of the ecosystems amidst the environmental changes brought  about by climate change.

The data from their samples will help them identify potential stressors affecting the two creeks – the health of each will impact Esquimalt Lagoon.

“Esquimalt Lagoon is really important for us to protect because this is designated as a federal migratory bird sanctuary where we do have a variety of shorebirds, seabirds and waterfowls that thrive here in  a very healthy ecosystem. That’s why we monitor both creeks,” said Niegas.

The students have been monitoring Hatley and Colwood creeks since January 16. They will continue to gather samples and in August will submit their final reports with recommendations on how to keep the waterways healthy.

Harry CorroHarry Corro

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