Where does Terminal Creek’s Water Come From?
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The Terminal Creek watershed is Bowen’s largest, draining much of the island’s interior. Like all Bowen Island’s fresh water, Terminal Creek’s water falls from the sky. Rain, falling on the slopes of Mount Gardner, gathers in streams that flow downstream to fill pools in wetlands, then fills Killarney and Grafton Lakes before heading to sea in Terminal Creek. The Terminal Creek watershed is all the green-shaded area on the map.
The watershed’s forests capture low cloud and act as a natural water filter by slowing rain as it falls to the earth and helping it soak into the soil.
Forest soils have rich layers of decomposing plant and animal material and many animals smaller than an earthworm. Deep and extensive root systems soak up heavy rains.
Swamps, marshes, bogs, and fens are sponges for Terminal Creek watershed.
These wetlands recharge during rains, then slowly release water into streams and creeks through periods of drought. Insects, bacteria, and fungi that thrive in damp soils deliver a soup of organic matter and dissolved nutrients to feed creek life such as freshwater mussels, crayfish, and juvenile salmon.
Crippen Park’s beaver families are the watershed’s ecosystem engineers—creating and managing habitat by damming streams to expand their pond in the Meadows. By raising the water level, the beavers drown the existing forest while creating new wetlands—a neighbourhood for hooded mergansers, buffleheads, great blue herons, and American dippers.
Along the creek’s edge, forest cover offers shade and cools the water—conditions favoured by many creek residents during summer heat. Where water flow is greatest, turbulence draws oxygen into the water. Fish and other creatures need dissolved oxygen to breathe. In stretches where forest trees fall into the creek water backs up and slows down, causing organic debris to settle out. Many forms of life gather for the rich pickings found in these calm pools.
On its journey from the peak of Mount Gardner, Terminal Creek’s water is filtered clean; bathed in rich organics; and tumbled full of life-giving oxygen. This nutritious water supports countless creatures large and small, including humans, on its way to the ocean. The Cove Bay Water System supplies 700 users with fresh water. This steady supply of fresh, clear water is called an ecosystem service—something our environment provides that people need, but don’t have to pay for.