Watercourse crossings: Improving habitat for fish species
February 2023 – At creeks and streams near Cenovus Energy’s conventional operations, crews fanned out over several weeks fixing culverts, building bridges and making other repairs, all to improve habitat for fish species.
Watercourse crossings are roads and trails that intersect a stream. Through regular inspections of crossings near our operations, we help to make sure the fish that populate the bodies of water can reach different habitats for spawning and eating.
“The work is part of our efforts to manage Cenovus’s environmental performance and ensure we address ecological impacts of our operations,” says Andy Taylor, Senior Environmental Operations Engineer. “Through careful planning and prioritization, we ensure our work is focused on crossings that are highly impactful for species habitat improvement.”
Cenovus is responsible for the inspection and repair of about 3,000 watercourse crossings near our operations in Alberta, as required by Alberta Energy Regulator. In 2022, our Earthworks department made repairs on 35 bridges and culverts on the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains, resulting in close to 60 kilometers of upstream habitat connectivity improvement. On the inspection side, teams have inspected at least 200 crossing locations last fall as part of ongoing monitoring.
We’ve allocated about $1 million for the work in 2022 as part of a three-year plan to fix locations that need repairs. The initial work is focused on high priority watershed areas that are home to species at risk, like the Arctic grayling which has been identified as a species of special concern, and bull trout and westslope cutthroat trout, which are classified both provincially and federally as threatened. We’ve also integrated paperless data collection and geographic information system (GIS) mapping technology into the process for robust data management and streamlined workflow.
“The success of this program would not be possible without the strong commitment from Cenovus on environmental and sustainability performance,” Andy says.
We've been keeping a close eye on the wildlife at our northern oil sands operations. Watch this video to see what we found.