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Bob Kronbauer: Even the salmon are doing cocaine in the Fraser Valley

This is less than ideal
A Chum salmon caught in the Vedder River in the Fraser Valley

While you were out getting ready for the holidays the Raincoast Conservation Foundation released a study about research they did on the "toxic soup" of harmful substances that made their way into the watershed in the Fraser Valley after the catastrophic flooding of Nov. 2021.

Their study looks at water samples they took over a seven-week period in the Semá:th X̱ó:tsa (Sumas Lake) region. Released in Nov. 2022, it outlines the fact that fossil fuels, pharmaceuticals, heavy metals, painkillers, and cocaine were found to be contaminating the water.

Yes, cocaine.

The Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy did their own study after the flooding. Their spokesperson played things down a bit, telling us that “Our results found limited to negligible risks to public and environmental health as a result of the atmospheric river event.”

This is not to say that there won't be long-term effects. Anyone who saw the RV lot on fire (check out the aftermath in the video here), or the highways completely flooded, or really had any view of the flooding, could conclude that toxins were spread widely during the event. We saw it happening with our own eyes, in real-time.

It's a mystery as to how the cocaine got there, but speaking as someone who has fished the rivers in this watershed in previous years as well as this year, I can share the anecdote that this season the salmon didn't seem more confident or aggressive than they usually do.

None of them seemed to be spending more time in the bathroom, and literally, none of them seemed extra chatty to me.

Time will tell how the contaminants will affect the health of the wildlife as well as the humans in the region, but one thing I know for certain is that donating to groups like the Rainforest Conservation Foundation and their funding partners like the Pacific Salmon Foundation is a smart investment in the future of cleaner water (and fish) in this province.