A truck stops outside Douglas Island Pink and Chum to pump in water on Thursday following damage to a pipeline caused by a landslide on Dec. 3, 2020. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire)

A truck stops outside Douglas Island Pink and Chum to pump in water on Thursday following damage to a pipeline caused by a landslide on Dec. 3, 2020. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire)

Landslide damages DIPAC’s freshwater supply

Many fish slated for release next spring were destroyed to preserve resources.

A landslide on Wednesday damaged a pipeline carrying freshwater from the Salmon Creek reservoir to Douglas Island Pink and Chum Inc.’s Macaulay Salmon Hatchery, severing its freshwater source and necessitating the destruction of many fish.

“(Alaska Electric Light and Power) and Macaulay Salmon Hatchery crews responded to assess the extent of the problem but due to weather conditions and lack of light, the problem could not be immediately located,” said DIPAC executive director Katie Harms in a news release. “Hatchery staff did everything they could to conserve the water at the hatchery to keep the fish alive.”

A damage assesment flight by AEL&P showed the pipeline ruptured roughly 1,000 feet downstream from the Salmon Creek Dam in a remote location, Harms said.

[6 missing after landslide hits Haines neighborhood]

“The amount of damage, limited access, and time of year made it evident that there is not a quick fix available,” Harms said. “Once the extent of the damage was known, the hatchery staff had to act quickly to conserve all possible water to keep the highest priority fish alive.”

All chinook pre-smolt, the majority of coho pre-smolt and all rainbow trout were destroyed to preserve water for the hatchery, Harms said. Pre-smolt is a salmon in a developmental stage before smolt, which is the stage before adulthood. All of these fish were scheduled for release in spring of 2021.

“At this time, the hatchery staff are working closely with AEL&P to develop a temporary water supply for the hatchery until the pipeline can be permanently repaired,” Harms said. “The system at hatchery is stable now giving us time to develop a more permanent and secure water delivery system.”

• Contact reporter Michael S. Lockett at (757) 621-1197 or mlockett@juneauempire.com.

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