Coquitlam, B.C. – The City is demonstrating its commitment to protecting creeks and waterways through a proactive program to improve creek water quality in Southwest Coquitlam, including increased monitoring and public education.
Council was updated Monday afternoon on the City’s efforts to protect creek health and the actions planned to improve creek water quality, particularly in Southwest Coquitlam. While most of Coquitlam’s creeks and water courses have good water quality, the City’s robust monitoring program has flagged that some creeks in the older, established southwest neighbourhoods north of Highway 1 are not achieving the same test results as the City’s other creeks.
Most Coquitlam Creeks Meet Water Quality Targets
Coquitlam has a comprehensive program to protect its network of more than 300 km of watercourses in 27 distinct urban watersheds, including water quality monitoring, education, staff investigation, enforcement, bylaw requirements and collaboration with volunteers and environmental groups.
To enable the City to identify trends and proactively address issues, creek water quality is tested at regular intervals as a requirement of the Integrated Watershed Management Plans developed for each urban watershed, as well as Metro Vancouver’s Monitoring and Adaptive Management Framework.
City-wide creek testing shows 95 to 96 per cent of samples in 2020, 2021 and 2022 had good or satisfactory readings – exceeding the target of 90 per cent in the City’s Environmental Sustainability Plan. Testing of the Coquitlam River in 2022 had similar positive results, with 96 per cent of samples meeting or exceeding regional guidelines, and significant improvements to turbidity (cloudiness) since monitoring of the river began.
Taking Action to Improve Creek Health
Through its testing program, Coquitlam identified lower creek water quality results in older, established neighbourhoods despite City protections such as erosion and sediment runoff controls and storm drain marking programs. Fortunately, the water treatment and detention measures included in newer development areas within Northeast Coquitlam have contributed to positive, stable creek water quality results.
While the majority of creeks in Southwest Coquitlam continue to show good or satisfactory test results, the City is launching a comprehensive suite of actions to improve creek health in the area, including:
- Dedicated funding in 2024 for creek water quality projects, focused initially on targeted monitoring of specific creeks;
- Real-time water quality monitoring requirements for large developments in the Stoney Creek Watershed;
- Public outreach on the impact of illicit discharges to the storm system, particularly from restaurants, food trucks and recreational vehicles;
- Exploring potential incentives for reducing impervious surfaces, such as paving, and implementing runoff detention on single-family properties;
- Evaluating options for treating discharge into the storm system, such as filtration systems; and
- Updating the Integrated Water Management Plans, starting this year with Hyde Creek.
- The City will also continue to watch other observed trends, such as declining summer creek flows, increasing winter flows, and water conductivity that is likely due to road salt runoff.
Everyone Plays a Role in Creek Health
Anything poured into the City’s catch basins empties directly into local creeks and streams. Yellow fish symbols are painted near catch basins to remind the public that anything that goes down these drains could affect fish, wildlife and overall creek health.
Residents can help protect Coquitlam’s network of creeks, streams and rivers:
- Wash cars on the lawn or at a car wash, and sweep walkways and driveways rather than hosing them down;
- Adopt a catch basin and help keep your neighbourhood safe, healthy and vibrant – visit coquitlam.ca/AdoptaCatchBasin for more information and to view a location map;
- Don’t use pesticides in your yard – visit coquitlam.ca/Pesticides for alternatives;
- Fix oil and transmission leaks and recycle all used oil and antifreeze;
- Never drain hot tub or swimming pool water into storm drains – direct it into the sanitary system instead. Check out RCBC Recyclepedia at rcbc.ca for the disposal of hot tub and pool chemicals.
- During renovation and construction projects, keep dirt, paint and wet concrete away from storm drains and streams; and
- Keep pets away from streams – animal waste is a pollutant, and pets can erode streambanks, cause siltation and disturb fish and wildlife.
Visit coquitlam.ca/Watercourse to learn more about how Coquitlam is protecting local creeks, streams and rivers. Information about the City’s sediment control and protections can be found at coquitlam.ca/esc.