As can clearly be seen from the Lougheed Highway, the new multi-million dollar Hammersley Pumping Station is now complete and should be fully operational in time for high water this spring.
This extraordinary pumping station comprises two huge screw augers which can slowly rotate, lifting thousands of cubic meters an hour of water from the slough to the catch basin sandwiched between the mountain and the CP Railway.
This system, which was actually designed thousands of years ago, has the advantage that fish can pass between the blades without being chipped up into fish paste.
Mountain Slough is one of Agassiz’s best kept secrets, being virtually inaccessible from the west end, passing though several private farms on its way to a starting point near the prison.
I have canoed it several times over the years; sometimes it is blocked by fallen trees, but on those odd times when we could get through, we have found the slough opening up into a surprisingly large pond redolent with duck, deer, raccoons, black bear, herons, coyotes and word has it that recently a cougar has been spotted.
There has been much discussion suggesting that the wonderful auger pumps are totally unnecessary as the number of food fish saved from certain annihilation in more prosaic pumps is little more than just a fantasy in the eye of a wildlife enthusiast.
Just a few years ago John Allen, on a tour of his property, was concerned about the poor condition of the concrete work under the original highway bridge.
I have never seen a civil engineering project move so quickly from concept to completion.
The complete bridge was replaced without in any way contaminating the water flow in just a few short months.
The multi-million dollar bridge was a vast project when contrasted with the prosaic eight-foot diameter C.P.R. culvert taking slough waters from the catch bowl to the Fraser.
Most people to whom I have spoken are somewhat aghast that millions of dollars was spent to sustain or protect a tiny fishy ecosystem whereas the human ecosystem taking the Lougheed Highway over the east shoulder of Mount Woodside has a sad record of death and injury on one of the most dangerous sections of highway in the province.
It would not surprise me if a similar huge sum of money could save a good number of two-wheeled “human fish”.
-Edward Monro, Agassiz