Mining, manufacturing, logging, pulp and paper making, farming, and energy industries have lined the banks of the Fraser and have fed the region’s development. Consequent of this activity and loosely enforced environmental regulations, or inadequate statutes, the Fraser suffers from a wide range of pollutants, including heavy metals, excessive nutrients, bacteria, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and dioxins. In addition to the industrial stresses exerted on the region, new development pressures metastasize as the vibrant Vancouver region draws more residents and more economic activity. The Greater Vancouver Regional District now houses more than 2.1 million people. It is expected that in the coming 20 years the population will increase by another 50%. This growth has detrimental consequences on the watershed due to both the development of surfaces, which exacerbates storm water runoff and combined sewerage outfalls, and the increased demands upon already inadequate sewage treatment infrastructures.
Mouth: Fraser River Delta, Strait of Georgia
Length: The Fraser River is tenth longest river in Canada, and the longest in British Columbia, at 1,375 km (854 Miles), from source to mouth.
Drainage basin area (watershed): The Fraser Basin contains the Fraser River and numerous tributaries, including the Willow River, Quesnel River, Thompson River, Williams Lake River, Coquihalla River, Vedder River, McGregor River, Nechako River, West Road River, Chilcotin River, Bridge River, Harrison River, and the Stave River. The entire watershed drains to an area of 220,000 km² (85,000 sq mi).
Discharge rate at the River mouth: The Fraser River flows at an average rate of around 3550 m3/second (or 112km3 per year) and dumps up to 20 million tonnes of sediment at its mouth in the Fraser Basin Delta.
The Fraser River and its tributaries provide a habitat for a variety of plant and animal species. Vegetation adjacent to the river consists of a variety of conifer species such as White Spruce, Lodgepole Pine, and Douglas Fir. The river hosts a wide variety of marine and freshwater vertebrate species. Included in this, and found in mainly the estuarine parts of river, are six main salmonid species: pink, chum, coho, sockeye, and Chinook salmon — and rainbow trout. Many marine species exist, such as starry flounder, pearmouth chub , redside shine and stickleback.
Further upstream are species such as green sturgeon, coastal cutthroat trout, white sucker, pygmy whitefish, and chum salmon. The Fraser River is extremely important as it provides a spawning habitat for the pink Chinook and chum Pacific salmon species. The Fraser Delta, the largest estuary on the Pacific Coast of Canada, hosts the Pacific Northwest’s most important salmon runs in North America.
Rivers of North America (Arthur C. Benke, Colbert E. Cushing – 2005)
Wikipedia – Fraser River