Several recommendations made in a consultant’s report on managing Brydon Lagoon will do more harm than good, according to the Brydon Lagoon Task Force (BLTF).
The consultant’s suggestions to link the lagoon to the Nicomekl River, stock the lagoon with fish and install concrete sidewalks are not sustainable for the area, said Lisa Burgess-Parker, chair of the BLTF.
Burgess-Parker spoke to City of Langley council in July to summarize the findings of the BLTF — a group of residents and environmentalists put together by the City after a massive fish kill in the lagoon last summer.
The BLTF reviewed historical records along with the Brydon Lagoon section of a pond management strategies report created for the City by Dillion Consulting Ltd. in 2013.
The goal of the task force was to find information gaps and discrepancies, make recommendations for the action items listed in the consultant’s report and create additional recommendations, Burgess-Parker said.
Although they agree with many of the consultant’s action items, some they strongly oppose.
In particular, linking the Nicomekl River to Brydon Lagoon “was brought up as a very, very high negative,” Burgess-Parker said.
Due to water quality issues in the lagoon — which caused thousands of fish to die last summer — the habitat is not suitable for salmon and other species found in the Nicomekl River, she said.
Similarly, stocking the lagoon with fish will not help, either. Currently, the lagoon houses several species of fish that were introduced by people dumping their aquariums, or during flood periods when the Nicomekl River overflowed into the lagoon, she said.
Because of the water conditions, most native fish species cannot survive. Therefore, if the City were to stock the lagoon, it would have to be with bass, an invasive fish. During floods, these fish would inevitably end up in the Nicomekl River.
“The bass, especially, are terrible to introduce into a system as they will eat all of the native fish,” Burgess-Parker said.
Other action items the BLTF disagrees with include constructing baffles to increase flow path of storm water inflows, creating settling lagoons/wetlands and establishing trails in the northern portion of the site.
As part of their work, the task force also created a prioritized list of the most important issues in the lagoon.
Their top five are water quality, sediment accumulation, high water temperatures, water quantity and invasive species of plants.
On July 27, council voted to refer the BLTF’s findings to staff for further review.
Brydon Lagoon has a rich history
The quiet path that winds around Brydon Lagoon was not always the picturesque walkway that it is today.
For more than 20 years the Lagoon was a fenced off sewage settling pond.
Built in the 1960s for $600,000, the sewage pond was part of the City of Langley’s first sewer system.
It was constructed on land sold by farmer John Brydon, whose family owned property in the area since the early 1900s.
At 300 metres long, 100 metres wide and 1.25 metres deep, the pond had the capacity to hold 23,000 cubic metres of water.
Early drawings show that the effluent, after settling, was discharged into the nearby Nicomekl River.
In 1970, the City joined the Greater Vancouver Regional District and its sewer services. A new sewer line was built from the treatment plant in Delta to a pump station beside the pond, and the original line was decommissioned.
It was at this time that the Langley Field Naturalists (LFN) began campaigning the City to turn the area into a park.
Although there were other suggestions — including filling-in the pond and creating a trailer park, or turning it into a remote controlled boat site, the City favoured the LFN plan.
In 1985 the site was designated as a nature park, and the LFN began planting bushes and trees in the area to attract wildlife. Trails were also built around the lagoon for the public to enjoy.
Today, the LFN is still heavily involved with the park.
Members continue to maintain floating roots and various nest boxes, and perform fish counts with the Langley Environmental Partners Society.
In 2014 there were 144 different species of birds recorded in the area, as well as several species of invasive fish.
Although the Lagoon has never been stocked with fish, over the years many non-native species have made their home there, most likely released from home aquariums or introduced by the Nicomekl River during flooding periods.