For nearly 30 years, the Fish & Wildlife Compensation Program (FWCP) has funded the Nutrient Restoration Program in Kootenay Lake and Arrow Lakes Reservoir. An independent review has found that nutrient additions are working—they are helping to restore aquatic ecosystems.
Starting in 1992, the Nutrient Restoration Program has been rebuilding the natural aquatic food web that existed in Kootenay Lake and Arrow Lakes Reservoir before the construction of dams. To do this, the FWCP and the Province of B.C., together with other partners, add liquid nitrogen and phosphorus to the surface of these waterbodies. The nutrients feed the microscopic phytoplankton, which feed the zooplankton, which feed the kokanee and in turn the many other fish and wildlife that depend on this ecosystem.
An online information session on Thursday, February 8 at 12 pm PT / 1 pm MT will explain how the nutrient additions restore the ecosystem.
“This program represents a key long-term commitment by the FWCP,” says Jen Walker-Larsen, the FWCP’s Columbia Region manager. “It helps us carry out our mission to compensate for impacts of dams on fish and fish habitat in Kootenay Lake and Arrow Lakes Reservoir.”
An independent review has found that the Nutrient Restoration Program is successfully restoring food webs in Kootenay Lake and Arrow Lakes Reservoir to support fish populations. Since nutrient additions began, productivity at the bottom of the food web has increased by at least 50 to 100%. The review recommended that nutrient additions continue.
The Nutrient Restoration Program is primarily funded by the FWCP and delivered by the Province of B.C. with involvement from local First Nations. Other funders include Columbia Power, BC Hydro, and Kootenai Tribe of Idaho.
“The independent review confirms that the program is helping to restore the food web in Kootenay Lake and Arrow Lakes Reservoir,” says fish restoration biologist, Marley Bassett, who manages the program for the Ministry of Water, Land and Resource Stewardship. “If nutrient additions stopped, productivity could decline back to pre-nutrient addition levels, with consequences to the upper food web including kokanee.”
Learn more about the Nutrient Restoration Program at the online information session. Register at fwcp.ca/events. Read more about the program at fwcp.ca/nutrient-restoration-program.