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Threats to Urban Creeks

Silt flowing into creek

Silt flowing from storm drain into Byrne Creek

When it rains, water runs off from streets, parking lots and buildings, and into storm drains.

Storm drains collect runoff from the entire watershed and convey it to streams through underground pipes or "creeks beneath the street." This runoff is NOT treated, and often carries contaminants from automobiles, construction sites, and other sources into creeks.

One spill alone killed 5,000 fish in Byrne Creek in 1998. Many household products such as detergents, cleaners and paint must never be poured down storm drains.

Daily decisions people make directly effect the survival of fish and other wildlife. Each house and business in the watershed plays a key role in preserving Byrne Creek, and ensuring the survival of its aquatic inhabitants.

First Flush Kills

Close-up of coho smolts killed by pollution

A particular problem streamkeepers are trying to figure out in Byrne Creek is the "first flush" effect. Each spring, schoolchildren help streamkeepers and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans release chum fry and coho smolts into the creek. However, these hatchery fish appear to be very sensitive to urban runoff, and often after they are released, the first following rainfall that washes road film, carwash soap, and other contaminants into the creek, kills them by the hundreds. Photos here.

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