Healthy Waters Project

The Tyee’s Michelle Gamage and Joe Valencic in dinghy; Fernando Lessa in water August 2022

For many years, conservation organizations such as Swim Drink Fish and Squamish Streamkeepers have been working diligently to understand what exactly what kinds of environmental stressors are at work in False Creek and what needs to be done to alert the public that significant changes need to be made. In 2023, False Creek Friends, in collaboration with Raincoast Conservation Foundation, Sea Village, and  the False Creek Watershed Society, will begin an investigation into what kinds of pollution from storm sewers and the 15 “ghost creeks” are entering False Creek.    We hope to get community members out in the field this Spring to trace specific pollutants. From ongoing investigations, it is well-known that Vancouver’s storm sewers are subject to overflows that contain fecal matter from domestic sewers. But there are other hazards to marine life, such as microfibers originating from ordinary home laundry rooms, and really bad stuff coming from automotive tires. We are currently discussing a citizen science project with Metro Vancouver and the City of Vancouver, to investigate the entire False Creek watershed.

From “Waterfront” by James Delgado

Negative comments about water quality have been common – at least since the 1930’s. (The rude nickname for False Creek (see left) was clearly not undeserved. )

This 2001 BC Government study is, well, rather shocking:

“All of the various PAH species at all of the False Creek sampling sites were present in concentrations  which exceeded the applicable objectives for the protection of aquatic life, by factors ranging between  about 4 and 2500 times.”
Assessment of Burrard Inlet Water and Sediment Quality 2000

And yet, according to Swim Drink Fish (SDF), which publishes the vitally-important Swim Guide for 8,000 beaches worldwide, some of False Creek waters are safe to swim in, some of the time. Along with the weekly sampling conducted by SDF, a complementary citizen-led investigation under the guidance of Raincoast Conservation Foundation, will lead to heightened public awareness. With all these efforts, we will be on the way to making False Creek swimmable all the time.

It may take a couple more generations – but it will happen. Especially with your help.

If this project is of interest, please leave a comment below or email us at!

3 Replies to “Healthy Waters Project”

  1. While it is well known that contamination entering the creek from combined sewer overflows includes fecal matter, complex polycarbonates from vehicle tires etc the north east end of the creek may require particular attention for ingress of stormwater carrying amphetamines and hormonal birth control substances. The back alleys of China Town are often the toilet of last resort for sex workers and homeless people.

  2. Thanks David! Yes you are right. Dr. Peter Ross highlighted this troubling aspect of our ‘dependencies’ on pharmaceuticals in the Raincoast Conservation Foundation’s recent report on the Sumas Lake Flood of 2021.

    “Cocaine and cocaine metabolites, metformin, sucralose and tire-related chemicals found in these waterways raise fundamental
    questions about the manner in which we regulate, use, treat, and
    dispose of chemicals. ”

    Search for Raincoast + Sumas + Contaminants and you’ll get the report. A real eye-opener!

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