Agassiz Slough brought back to life

An excavator lifts sludge and canary grass out of the Agassiz Slough, to help restore the waterway.  - Jessica Peters/ The Observer
An excavator lifts sludge and canary grass out of the Agassiz Slough, to help restore the waterway.
— image credit: Jessica Peters/ The Observer

It's been about 25 years since any dredging work was last done on the Agassiz Slough. But this week, an excavator, a couple of dump trucks and a few men worked their way from one end of the waterway to the next.

The Agassiz Slough has slowly been filling up with invasive canary grass and blackberry bushes, but other than that there is "very little living" in the boggy water, said biologist Mike Pearson.

On July 23, he approached council with a request to carry out the dredging with the assistance of the District of Kent. While the federal and provincial governments are footing the bill for Pearson's time and the excavator, they needed a dump truck and the approval to close the road temporarily to through traffic. Council approved the project at its following meeting, and the project has gone ahead.

A local farmer provided a second dump truck, and is using the sludge and grass pulled out of the slough to infill the lowland in his fields.

On Wednesday, day two of the five-day project, the slough was already coming back to life.

"We find that whenever we do this, the water comes back to life very quickly," Pearson said.

While many older locals, including the mayor, have noted that they recall fishing and rafting down the slough, that would have been impossible over the past few years.

The slough became overgrown due having "too many nutrients and not enough shade," Pearson explained. However, farming practices have improved over time, causing less run off into waterways.

And at the Agassiz Slough, the Fraser Valley Watersheds Coalition has been busy planting the fast growing willows that are now providing much needed shade. Willow wisps planted three years ago are already filling in the east side of the slough along Tuttyens Road. Other trees such as spruce and big leaf maples will provide even more shade in the long term.

"Those being planted will give it a bit of a head start," Pearson said.

In total, one kilometre is being cleaned out.

There was almost zero oxygen in the slough It's just one of the areas that Pearson regularly monitors, but he's looking forward to seeing the big changes by next spring.



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