Community - Watercourses

Creeks and Streams


Creeks and Streams in Abbotsford

Creeks and streams are formed by natural processes that are affected by human influences. Forested land has a capacity to absorb rainfall, through evaporation, evapo-transpiration, and infiltration into the ground. When the rate of rainfall exceeds the absorption capacity of the land, the excess rainfall runs off in a downhill direction. As it progresses downhill, this “surface runoff” from adjacent lands merges together to create brooks, creeks, streams and rivers.

Creeks and streams abound in the City of Abbotsford, as shown on the creeks and streams map.  Most carry flows to the Fraser River, but some in the southwest corner of the City connect to the Nooksack River in the US. Creeks and streams are watercourses and, in British Columbia, all watercourses are owned by the province. The use of water in them is governed by the provincial Water Sustainability Act, administered by the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations. Any changes or modifications to watercourses require approval from both the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations and Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

As development occurs near watercourses in the City of Abbotsford, the channels and adjacent riparian areas are generally left as is. Runoff from adjacent developed lands is normally piped underground and conveyed to the watercourses, through infrastructure designed to minimize the impacts.

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Erosion and Bank Stabilization

Erosion of creek banks is a natural process but it can be accelerated by development, both urban and rural. As the original forested cover is removed from land, more rainfall runs off of it and ends up in watercourses. The cumulative effects generally result in more erosion, if not properly managed.  On some creeks in the City, urban development that occurred prior to the implementation of stormwater management requirements is causing erosion.

The Engineering Department will assist owners of property in the urban area which are threatened by eroding creek banks by assessing the erosion sites, trying to determine the cause, and if necessary, arranging for protective or bank stabilization works. Erosion of creek banks in rural areas is generally not related to urban land development and is the responsibility of the property owner.

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