Bowker Creek is part of the Bowker Creek Watershed, a now-urbanized watershed that has been significantly affected by impenetrable surfaces, like roads, roofs and parking areas. The creek flows south from its headwaters at the University of Victoria through neighbourhoods in Saanich, Victoria, and Oak Bay, before entering the ocean near the Oak Bay Marina. In the past, Bowker Creek was fed by rainfall that ran as surface water over forests and fields, or that soaked slowly into the soil as groundwater. As the water seeped down, it was absorbed and cleansed by soil, plants, and bacteria. But now roads, roofs, and parking areas block the passage of water into the soil and increase surface runoff, so instead of the water being cleansed by soil and plants, the water now flows over roads, roofs, and parking areas, collecting an assortment of pollutants, including oils and grease from roads and parking areas; pesticides and fertilizers from gardens; hazardous chemicals such as paint and heavy metals; and litter, pet waste and other contaminants. The polluted water then flows quickly into Bowker Creek and eventually into the ocean, damaging both freshwater and marine environments.
How can you help improve the Bowker Creek watershed?
The Friends of Bowker Creek Society outline the following steps you can take around your home:
Around your home:
- Reduce your use of household hazardous products (e.g. solvents, harsh cleaners). Do not dispose of them in storm drains. Take them to recycling or collection centres.
- Where appropriate, redirect roof drains or downspouts over lawns instead of directly into storm drains.
- If you have oil heating, check fuel storage tanks for leaks and replace or repair where necessary.
- Pave as little of your property as possible. Use gravel or paving stones instead of concrete or asphalt, to help slow stormwater runoff
Around your garage:
- Check and repair automobile fuel and fluid systems. Fix any leaks immediately.
- Recycle used oil, antifreeze and paints by taking them to collection facilities. Do not dump into storm drains.
- Wash your car over gravel or lawn so that the soapy water and debris soaks into the ground instead of flowing directly into storm drains and into the creek. Use mild phosphate-free soap
Around your neighbourhood:
- Support local community and stream stewardship groups and restoration efforts.
- Encourage land protection and acquisition of community greenspace, especially in those areas adjacent to the creek.
- Involve youth and support stream stewardship programs in local schools.
- Encourage local and regional governments to implement the Bowker Creek Watershed Management Plan