The spill that killed approximately 300 fish in Stoney Creek earlier this summer was likely the result of an illegal discharge into Coquitlam’s stormwater system, according to city staff.
But for streamkeeper George Kovacic, the most important question is how the city plans to stop the next spill.
Coquitlam fined a contractor $500 after father-and-son streamkeepers George and Luka Kovacic spotted a milky discharge in the creek northwest of North Road and Como Lake Avenue.
Kovacic said he was “shocked” at history of sewage spills and oily discharges around and into the creek.
“We’ve had stuff happen over and over,” he said. “What gets me is that there’s no system in place to figure this out.”
Kovacic asked Coquitlam city staff about the efficacy of having a company like Flowlink monitor water quality.
“A continuous water quality monitor installed in Stoney Creek would not have been able to prevent a spill like this from happening,” stated Coquitlam engineering and public works manager Jonathan Helmus in an email.
Water drawn from the creek had a pH of 10.81, according to Burrard Inlet Marine Enhancement Society president Kevin Ryan. Finding water with a pH level similar to ammonia is not surprising, according to Flowlink CEO Elena Ranyuk.
Flowlink monitors and controls water on construction sites to keep contaminants from seeping into waterways. Ranyuk said her company would regularly divert 30,000 gallons of water with high pH levels from a small construction site in Port Moody.
While Flowlink has worked with Port Moody and Burnaby, Ranyuk said many local governments are wary of hiring a company that will: “place an additional burden on developers.”
Warnings and fines are not effective, according to Ranyuk.
“Real-time monitoring and discharge shutoff (stopping or redirecting the flow when contamination is detected) by a third party is the only thing that works to ensure true compliance on construction sites,” she added.
An analysis of water samples taken from the creek is expected to be complete by the end of August.