Today’s Poll

Water festival and the story of the creek

Timothy Schafer
By Timothy Schafer
May 5th, 2011

Water called hundreds of people to celebrate as the eighth annual Winlaw Water Festival paid homage to the essence of life Sunday.

Hosted by the Winlaw Watershed Committee — a nonprofit society founded 20 years ago by Winlaw and Dumont Creek water users — the festival was the time to inspire reverence and delight in the living waters we all take for granted.

The day was also the grand unveiling of an informative and artistic watershed exhibit — painted by Winlaw artist Peter Vogelaar — in the foyer of the Cedar Creek Café.

The creation of the exhibit was a collaborative effort of local artists and watershed enthusiasts, funded by local credit unions, including the Nelson and District Credit Union.

The exhibit will be a permanent feature at the Cedar Creek Café, said Winlaw Watershed Committee member Phil Larstone.

“It will help educate newcomers and remind locals to appreciate and care for the precious ecosystems that are the source of our drinking water,” he said.

There are roughly 80 water licences on Winlaw creek as well as numerous wells and springs that provide the water needs of a majority of the residents and all the businesses in the community centre.

Many types of habitats lie within the Winlaw watershed and are capable of supporting different species of wildlife including white tail deer, rainbow trout, wolves, moose (Alces alces), black bear (Ursus americanus), elk (Cervus elaphus nelsoni), beaver (Castor canadensis) and many other smaller mammal species.

The total area of the Winlaw Creek watershed is 3,985 hectares. It is bordered by Pedro Creek to the south, Trozzo Creek to the north, and Sproule Creek to the southeast.

A forest fire swept through the watershed in 1912 and the watershed it still recovering to a stable state.

The Winlaw Watershed Committee

The Winlaw Watershed Committee was set up 20 years ago to ensure responsible stewardship of watershed ecosystems, and protection of precious water — its quality, quantity and timing of flow.

The WWC depends on local fundraising and the volunteer efforts of its membership and directors to accomplish its projects and functions.

The Winlaw watershed

The watershed is low elevation. This means water storage in soil for release during dry summer months is limited to those areas where roads and logging are, and would be planned.

Water quality

Winlaw Creek has cold water because of shade from trees.

Surface water warms (and evaporates) quickly when exposed to sun and wind. Water that is warmed in headwater areas stays warm for the length of the channel. Aquatic life including fish, frogs, and benthic invertebrates need cold water.

Winlaw provides much needed cool water to the Slocan River. There is a direct correlation between drinking water quality and water temperature: e.g. warmer water has more fecal coliforms.

Water supply

Winlaw Creek is a low elevation watershed mostly under 1,800 metres elevation.

This means peak flows are largely determined by lower elevation snowmelt from the north-facing slopes.

Peak flows are two to three weeks earlier than the peak flow of creeks in high elevation watersheds.

Winlaw Creek’s water supply relies heavily on surface sources rather than deep ground water aquifers. Roads built on water storage sites disturb and compact soil. This results in less storage capacity and more turbidity in the creeks.

The stability of Winlaw Creek’s channel relies on large trees, logs and rootwads. These are lacking because of past logging. Winlaw currently has an extremely unstable channel.

The video was shot by Della Schafer. All photos taken by Timothy Schafer.!/TheNelsonDaily


See also

Winlaw Water Festival


Watershed projects

The Winlaw Watershed Committe has undertaken many projects, some of which are highlighted here:
Water Monitoring

Riparian Corridor

Slocan Valley Community Forest Initiative

Watershed Interpretive Centre

Fish Habitat Restoration

Community Watershed Atlas

Management Options

Categories: General

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