2021 Vancouver Community Science Recreational Water Monitoring Report

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2021 Vancouver Community Science Recreational Water Monitoring Report



This report was produced by Swim Drink Fish and Fraser Riverkeeper Society. For more information visit: www.swimdrinkfish.ca www.fraserriverkeeper.ca www.theswimguide.org www.recreationalwater.ca/vancouver Authors: Imogene Broberg-Hull, Sadie Caron, Melanie Stirling, Alicia Elgert, and Lauren Brown Hornor. Editors: Gregary Ford, Isabel Fleisher, Matt Brown, Melanie Stirling, and Mark Mattson. Design: Sore Thumb Inc. Photo Credits: William Bird, Imogene Broberg-Hull, and Sadie Caron. This report is dedicated to the volunteers, staff, supporters, partners, and members of the movement who are all working towards a swimmable, drinkable, fishable future for everyone.

TABLE OF CONTENTS ACKNOWLEDGMENTS ����������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 4 OVERVIEW ������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 4 WHO WE ARE �������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 4 OUR APPROACH �������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 4

THE VANCOUVER COMMUNITY-BASED WATER MONITORING HUB ��������������������������� 5 WHY FALSE CREEK? ��������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 5 THE CONTEXT ������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������ 5 History of False Creek �������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������5 Sewage Pollution in False Creek ������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������6 Metro Vancouver Water Monitoring �������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������6 Swim Guide ��������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������6 MONITORING LOCATIONS ���������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 7 MONITORING SEASON ���������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 7 ABOUT COMMUNITY SCIENCE ������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������ 7 OUR VOLUNTEERS ����������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 8

RESULTS AND FINDINGS ������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������ 9 RECREATIONAL WATER QUALITY DATA COLLECTION, ANALYSIS, AND RESULTS SHARING ���������������������� 9 GENERAL FINDINGS �������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 9 Olympic Village ������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������ 11 Brokers’ Bay ����������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 14 Vanier Park ������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 16 OBSERVATIONS ���������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������18 Wildlife ��������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 18 Recreational Users ����������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 19 Pollution �����������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������20

ADVOCACY AND ACTION ����������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������21 VANCOUVER PLASTIC CLEANUP ���������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������21 INDIGENOUS CULTURE AWARENESS PROJECTS �����������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������24 VOICES FOR WATER................. �������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������24

NEXT STEPS AND RECOMMENDATIONS ������������������������������������������������������������������������26 CITY OF VANCOUVER RECOMMENDATIONS �����������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������26

REFERENCES ������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������29 APPENDIX ����������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������30 APPENDIX A: WEEKLY GEOMEAN PER SAMPLE LOCATION �����������������������������������������������������������������������������30 APPENDIX B: SPEARMAN RANK CORRELATION TESTS �������������������������������������������������������������������������������������31

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS Fraser Riverkeeper’s programming takes place on the unceded, traditional, and ancestral territories of the Xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Səlil̓ilw̓ətaʔɬ (Tsleil-Waututh), and Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish) Nations. Since time immemorial, First Nations have been stewards of this land and water. We would like to acknowledge the generosity of our supporters, including the Peter Wall Coastal Protection Initiative, Healthy Watersheds Initiative, RBC Foundation, Sitka Foundation, Canada Summer Jobs, Eco Canada, Pacific Spirit Park Society, Salt Water Digital, SMAK, Impact Engineering, as well as the individuals and companies who have donated to Fraser Riverkeeper Society and Swim Drink Fish Canada. Our programs would not be possible without the dedicated community science volunteers who sampled water, collected data, and participated in waste characterization throughout all manners of weather conditions and during the COVID-19 pandemic. We extend a heartfelt thank you to everyone who has offered their time, especially our returning volunteers.

OVERVIEW Who We Are Fraser Riverkeeper Society, a subsidiary of the national charity Swim Drink Fish Canada, is a Vancouver-based charity dedicated to the protection and restoration of the Fraser River and its watershed. We use community science and communications technology to empower people to know and safeguard their waters. Fraser Riverkeeper’s encompassing mission is to ensure the right of everyone to safely swim, drink, and fish in BC waters. Fraser Riverkeeper first launched the Vancouver Community-Based Water Monitoring Hub (“Vancouver Hub”), located in False Creek, in 2018. The Vancouver Hub engages Vancouverites in water quality monitoring, data-sharing, and stewardship of local waters. The Vancouver Hub is one of six monitoring hubs operated by Swim Drink Fish nationally: the Toronto Monitoring Hub, the Zhiibaahaasing First Nation Monitoring Hub, the Lake Erie - Niagara Monitoring Hub, the Kingston Monitoring Hub, and the North Saskatchewan Riverkeeper Edmonton Monitoring Hub.

Our Approach The Vancouver Hub aims to improve water quality through four steps: connect, collect, share, and restore. We connect community members to their waters by bringing them to their local waterbodies directly through our monitoring program and indirectly with beach information on Swim Guide. We collect water quality data with the support of community science volunteers. We share all of the data that we collect for free with the public on the Swim Guide’s free app and website, on the Fraser Riverkeeper website, and on the Open Data Portal for Recreational Water Quality. This data then informs local action to restore water quality and community access to waters. The results from the Vancouver Hub supplement those collected by Metro Vancouver from May to September and are shared on the Vancouver Coastal Health beach water quality reports webpage. The sampling results contribute to Fraser Riverkeeper’s ongoing investigation into the health of Vancouver’s recreational waters. The program is supported by a team of committed volunteers assisting staff in collecting water samples on a weekly and bi-weekly basis. The program is run by trained staff, who process and analyze these samples in-house from our lab on Granville Island. Year-round data collection and analysis allows us to better understand the issues surrounding water quality in False Creek and helps the public to envision a swimmable future for this iconic water body in the heart of our city. ʔəm̓i ce:p “WELCOME” IN hən̓q̓ əmin̓əm̓ (DOWNRIVER HALKOMELEM DIALECT)



THE VANCOUVER COMMUNITY-BASED WATER MONITORING HUB Why False Creek? False Creek supports fourteen marinas, sheltering commercial and recreational watercraft. This sheltered tidal inlet supports a community of international residents, numerous boat clubs, two water taxi services, and Fisherman’s Wharf - a commercial seafood marketplace. One of the primary tourist attractions along False Creek is Granville Island. As such, it is a region of heavy foot traffic and public use. Historically, False Creek has faced recurrent issues of poor water quality and, therefore, remains a priority for year-round monitoring. Maintaining reliable water quality data is essential to protect the public whose livelihoods, cultural practices, and recreational opportunities depend upon it. Additionally, trends in water quality offer vital information towards local marine ecological conservation.

The Context HISTORY OF FALSE CREEK False Creek, known as sən̓aʔqʷ (Sen̓áḵw in Squamish) in Halkomelem, one of the traditional languages of the Coast Salish Peoples, translates to “the place inside the head of False Creek.” Since time immemorial, False Creek has been an important gathering place for the Xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Səlil̓ilw̓ətaʔɬ (Tsleil-waututh), and Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish) Nations. The protected, shallow waters offered an optimal location for fishing and foraging amongst the intertidal zone. As such, a small seasonal fishing village, inhabited by the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish) Nation, was once nestled between Vanier Park and Granville Island. In the 1880s, as settlers began to colonize the area, Indigenous inhabitants of the village were forced onto Kitsilano Indian Reserve No.6 or placed on a barge and relocated to North Vancouver. The late 19th and early 20th centuries saw the rapid growth of Vancouver; gradually, False Creek’s tidal flats were heavily altered, polluted, and industrialized. By 1912, the region underwent one of the largest geographic alterations in Vancouver’s history - the draining of False Creek’s easternmost end. False Creek, which originally extended to present-day Clarke Drive, was filled in to what is now Main Street as a means to accommodate a railyard for the Canadian Northern Railway terminus. By the middle of the 20th century, the rapidly expanding metropolis of Vancouver had squeezed False Creek between railyards, lumber mills, and shipping docks. The False Creek flats were the city’s industrial heartland, extending from Yaletown to East Vancouver. Pollution was rampant, and the inlet was crowded with port traffic. In anticipation of Expo ‘86, the World Exposition on Transportation and Communication, the city had transformed the northern and eastern shores of False Creek into a colourful architectural playground. At its opening in 1986, False Creek had been granted pedestrian access to English Bay via Seawall, Granville Island had been established as a mixed-income artist community, and large residential townhouses and condos had been constructed along the shoreline. Similar to the 2010 Olympics, Expo ‘86 was an event that forever altered our urban landscape. This exposition is recognized as a significant turning point that rebranded Vancouver’s identity from an industrial port city to a vibrant and modern cultural centre. Presently, False Creek has been built upon the legacy of Expo ‘86, which transitioned an industrial site into an accessible amenity. The shoreline is largely occupied by recreational users, both on land and in the water. Olympic Village, initially developed for the 2010 Olympic Winter Games, further remodeled the shoreline of False Creek into the public space we recognize today. The remnants of industrial life, which once dominated the inlet, can be found at the concrete plant on Granville Island and Fisherman’s Wharf. The future of False Creek is currently in flux, as storm surges and a rise in sea level threaten the coast. The City of Vancouver is working on adaptation plans to mitigate the consequences of climate change, which will once again reconfigure the geography of False Creek.




SEWAGE POLLUTION IN FALSE CREEK False Creek is particularly susceptible to sewage pollution due to the five known sewer outfalls that often experience combined sewer overflows (CSOs) during storm and rain events (Figure 2, Map of False Creek). Combined sewers are antiquated pipe systems that collect both wastewater and stormwater on the way to water treatment plants. They contain overflow pipes that empty a toxic combination of untreated or partially treated sewage and stormwater into receiving waterbodies, such as False Creek, when the treatment capacity of water treatment plants is overloaded (Phippen & Sutherland, 2006). According to a City of Vancouver council document from 2019, almost 674,000 cubic metres of raw sewage and runoff drained into False Creek last year from just one of the five False Creek combined sewer overflow outfalls (City of Vancouver, 2018). In addition to CSOs, unreported stormwater pipes, outdated holding tanks on boats, and street runoff can contribute to contamination (Phippen & Sutherland, 2006). Vancouver has a highly active waterfront that is accessible year-round. SSOs (Sanitary Sewer Outfalls) and CSOs (Combined Sewer Outfalls) impact recreational water quality and increase people’s risk of waterborne illness if they come in contact with the polluted water. Therefore it is essential to inform the recreational water users of these events year-round. METRO VANCOUVER WATER MONITORING From May to the end of September, Metro Vancouver collects recreational water quality data at swimming and non-swimming beaches and recreational areas across 120 sampling sites in 40 locations throughout the Greater Vancouver area. Metro Vancouver adheres to the Canadian Recreational Water Quality Guidelines. Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) and Fraser Health publish the water quality results on their respective websites at least once a week from May to September. If the E. coli concentrations surpass either a geometric mean of ≤ 200 E. coli/100 mL based on the previous five samples or a single sample limit of ≤ 400 E. coli/100 mL, the Medical Health Officer makes an assessment and beach operators may be required to close a beach for swimming. Metro Vancouver plans to sample using qPCR rapid testing in summer 2022, which is a big step in getting the most current water quality data.

Figure 1. CSO sign at Jericho Beach.

The Vancouver Hub follows the same guidelines and analysis techniques as Metro Vancouver and VCH. To supplement the data collected by Metro Vancouver and shared by VCH, the Vancouver Hub samples year-round to provide additional data about the water quality of False Creek. This supplementary data is particularly important when the rains are heavy in the fall and spring to ensure the public has access to regular and consistent data to rely on before interacting with the water in non-summer months. SWIM GUIDE Swim Guide is the world’s leading beach information service. Swim Guide’s free app and website shows you beach locations, descriptions, photos, and water quality results for more than 8,000 beaches around the world. Over 8 million people have used Swim Guide to find local beaches and see if it passed or failed its last recreational water quality test. Over 100 affiliate organizations in 11 countries share data from their local public health authority as well as from their own water monitoring programs. Swim Guide makes it easy to understand water quality results with a green symbol to mark when a beach meets recreational water quality standards, and red when a beach fails to meet recreational water standards.




Monitoring Locations We collect water quality data at three locations in False Creek (Figure 2): Olympic Village, Brokers’ Bay, and Vanier Park. We selected these locations for water sampling based on their high recreational use, water quality issues, and potential to contribute to and supplement data collected at False Creek. These False Creek locations are sampled to develop a baseline of knowledge about the potential swimmability of the water of this immensely popular and at-risk waterbody.

Figure 2. Map of False Creek with sampling locations labeled—Olympic Village, Brokers’ Bay, and Vanier Park—and CSO locations as of 2018 from the Wastewater Systems Effluent Regulations (WSER) (Environment and Climate Change Canada, 2013-2018).

Monitoring Season The Vancouver Monitoring Hub runs year-round, as Vancouver’s temperate climate allows people to be outdoors throughout the year. We sample weekly from April to October and biweekly from November to March. Samples are collected on Thursdays, and results are published on the Fraser Riverkeeper website, Swim Guide, and the Open Data Portal on Fridays.

About Community Science Community Science is a movement to increase local scientific knowledge through public participation and collaboration in research. When someone becomes a community scientist, they not only develop their scientific expertise but contribute meaningful data for a better understanding of our world. Community scientists participate in monitoring, data collection, and other scientific processes alongside researchers as a means to encourage public engagement and collect more data than would otherwise be possible. At Swim Drink Fish and Fraser Riverkeeper, we seek to establish an inclusive and accessible environment for all individuals. We acknowledge that language matters, so in 2021, we decided to replace our use of “citizen science” with “community science” to better reflect our values. The term “citizen” promotes a colonial narrative and excludes people who do not identify with the traditional definition of the word; moreover, it implies the use of geopolitical and land borders within our work. Community science is for everyone - this term accurately represents our goal to create an equitable and safe space for all who join the Fraser Riverkeeper team. SWIM DRINK FISH


Our Volunteers The Fraser Riverkeeper monitoring program would not be possible without our valuable circle of community scientists. All volunteers are overseen by staff members and adhere to the standard operating procedures developed by Swim Drink Fish, in accordance with the Guidelines for Canadian Recreational Water Quality (Health Canada, 2012). Our volunteers assist the Community Science Coordinator to collect water samples and complete field surveys as a means to assess the water quality and environment of multiple sites surrounding False Creek. In 2021, our team collected and published the results from 522 samples and completed 123 field reports. 6,653 Vancouver-based users visited our Swim Guide pages this year to view water quality results.













Figure 3. 2021 water monitoring and Swim Guide statistics. *Google Analytics ** Region manager stats

Throughout 2021, Fraser Riverkeeper community scientists spent 331 hours collecting water samples. We had a total of 62 volunteers join us, with 6 individuals returning multiple times to lend a hand. In particular, we would like to thank Lesley Rigby, a community science star and an invaluable member of the False Creek community. Lesley assisted us by collecting water samples with a canoe, rain or shine. We would also like to thank Jesse Watt, a Granville Island local and Environmental Science student at the University of British Columbia, for his dedication to water monitoring in the fall season. Lastly, we would like to thank Amelia Paetkau for her commitment to the Fraser Riverkeeper water monitoring program over the past two years. We couldn’t have done it without our wonderful volunteers! With the easing of COVID-19 restrictions in the spring of 2021, we were able to host large groups during sampling sessions. Fraser Riverkeeper was overjoyed to hold our first ever session with a school group - 44 students from Crosstown Elementary School, grades three and four.

Figure 4. Volunteer Amelia filling out an environmental observations sheet









Figure 5. Volunteering statistics.

hay čxʷ q̓ə “THANK YOU” IN hən̓q̓ əmin̓əm̓ (DOWNRIVER HALKOMELEM DIALECT)



RESULTS AND FINDINGS Recreational Water Quality Data Collection, Analysis, and Results Sharing During water monitoring days, staff and community scientists collect samples at each of the three locations in False Creek. Environmental Health and Safety Surveys (EHSS) were conducted at each site at the start of the monitoring program in accordance with the Guidelines for Canadian Recreational Water Quality (Health Canada, 2012; Figure 7). Water samples are collected in accordance with Swim Drink Fish’s Standard Operating Procedures. Samples are analyzed at our in-house microbiological laboratory using the IDEXX Colilert system (IDEXX, 2013; IDEXX, 2019). Fraser Riverkeeper samples for indicator bacteria, specifically total coliforms and Escherichia coli (E.coli), to assess risk to public health and the environment (Ontario Ministry of Health, 2018; Health Canada, 2012; Figure 8). Swim Drink Fish follows the British Columbia Recreational Water Quality Guidelines (MOE, 2019), which are based on the Guidelines for Canadian Recreational Water Quality (GCRWQ) (Health Canada, 2012). The guidelines are as follows:

Recreational Water Protocol HEALTH CANADA, 2012

Geometric mean concentration (minimum 5 samples):

≤ 200 E. coli / 100 mL

Single-sample maximum concentration :

≤ 400 E. coli / 100 mL

Figure 6. Recreational Water Protocol, Health Canada 2012.

All water quality data is uploaded to Swim Guide and the Fraser Riverkeeper website in an easy-to-read format, showing when beaches pass or fail. The open, raw dataset is available on Swim Drink Fish’s open data portal and is downloadable as a JSON or CSV file for everyone to access, use, and reuse. In addition to taking water samples, we collect data on several other parameters each time we sample. These field surveys include data on pH, dissolved oxygen, temperature, and salinity. We also collect and track data on wildlife, recreational water users, floatables and plastics, and current weather and precipitation.

General Findings For the first time in Fraser Riverkeeper history, we collected a full year of weekly and biweekly E. coli data for all three sampling locations in False Creek. We calculated spatial geomeans every week for each location to determine whether that area passed or failed. A spatial geomean calculates the most probable number (MPN) of E. coli cells per 100 mL of water over multiple samples along one beach. Water quality throughout 2021 substantially improved compared to previous years of sample data from False Creek. Olympic Village met water quality standards 88.9% of the time, Brokers’ Bay met standards 97.2% of the time, and Vanier Park met standards 91.4% of the time. The Olympic Village area continues to have the most consistently poor water quality in False Creek. From January to May, E. coli levels remained low enough across all sample locations to pass Health Canada’s Recreational Water Quality guidelines for several months straight. From May 28th to June 18th, each location suffered a moderate failure (Appendix A. Weekly Geomean Per Sample Location) before clearing up for the summer. Unlike previous years, E. coli counts during July and September remained uncharacteristically low. Water quality during those three months was exceptional, with noticeably clear water and only one failing geomean at Olympic Village on August 19th. As the rain began to fall in September, water quality took a turn for the worse and E. coli counts increased throughout the fall. October marked the month with the poorest water quality for Olympic Village and Vanier Park, while Brokers’ Bay experienced elevated E. coli counts the following month in November. The complete dataset can be found on our open data portal. θqet “TREE” IN hən̓q̓ əmin̓əm̓ (DOWNRIVER HALKOMELEM DIALECT)



A summer of drought and an autumn characterized by heavy rainfall led us to ask, what is the relationship between precipitation and water quality? We know that Metro Vancouver storm drains and combined sewers overflow into water bodies when our infrastructure is at capacity. We found that 2021 rainfall and E. coli levels are positively correlated (Appendix B. Spearman Rank Correlation Tests). Proving that precipitation levels are related to water contamination is extremely important to our organization as we continue our work advocating for the separation of combined sewers, improved wastewater treatment, and better stormwater management.

E. coli/100ml (MPN) Olympic Village

SAMPLE LOCATIONS E. coli/100ml (MPN) Brokers’ Bay

E. coli/100ml (MPN) Vanier Park


















































Figure 7. Average Monthly E. coli/100ml Per Sample Location.

Average monthly E. coli/100mL (MPN) Per location

Figure 8. Average Monthly E.coli/100ml (MPN) Per Location.




Figure 9. A volunteer holding up a water sample to inspect.

OLYMPIC VILLAGE 2021 E. coli levels in Olympic Village were markedly lower than in previous years. In 2020 Olympic Village passed 67% of the time and in 2019 the same site passed 36% of the time. In 2021, Olympic Village met water quality standards 88.9% of the time, with a total of 4 failing days out of 36 total sample events. Failing water quality results occurred in the latter half of the year, in June, August, November, and December (Figure 13. Weekly water sampling results). October had the highest E. coli levels, with a monthly average concentration (MPN) of 250.23 E. coli/100ml (Figure 13. Average Monthly E. coli Per Location). March had the lowest E. coli levels with an average of 2.84 E. coli/100ml (Figure 13). Though Olympic Village generally differed very little in E. coli/100ml counts site-to-site, OVE (Figure 10 map) had the highest overall average at 69.43 E. coli/100ml, and OVA had the lowest at 67.4 E. coli/100ml (Figure 12. Olympic Village: Average E. coli/100ml (MPN) per site). This high average may be related to the structure of the shoreline at this site. While the OVE site area is one of the only shoreline access points in Olympic Village, it may not receive adequate tidal flushing as a result of its isolation from the main False Creek channel. It is interesting to note that OVA had the lowest average E. coli counts at 67.4 E. coli/100ml (MPN). OVA is the farthest east site in Olympic Village - where most people would consider the “end” of False Creek to be.

Olympic Village Pass/Fail Rate

Figure 10. Olympic Village sampling site locations.

Figure 11. Olympic Village Pass/Fail Rate. SWIM DRINK FISH


Olympic Village: Average E.coli/100ml (mpn) Per Site

Figure 12. Olympic Village: Average E. coli/100ml (MPN) Per Site.

Comparing Average Monthly E.coli/100ml Levels: Olympic Village 2020 and Olympic Village 2021

Figure 13. Comparing Average Monthly E. coli/100ml Levels: Olympic Village 2020 and Olympic Village 2021.

Since we prioritized year-round sampling at Olympic Village throughout the 2020 sampling season, we are able to make comparisons between water quality results from 2020 and 2021. Unlike our Olympic Village results from 2020, Olympic Village site samples never exceeded 2419.6 E. coli/100 mL, the maximum concentration of E. coli quantifiable using the IDEXX system without diluting the sample. We saw a major difference in contamination during the summer of 2021 compared to the previous year (Figure 13. Comparing Average Monthly E. coli/100ml Levels: Olympic Village 2020 and Olympic Village 2021). For instance, the average monthly E. coli concentration in August 2020 was 1143.9 E. coli/100ml, and in August 2021, the average E. coli concentration was markedly lower at 48.54 E. coli/100ml. However, we saw E. coli contamination rise in the fall of 2021, when heavy rainfall flooded the streets, storm drains, combined sewers, and eventually water bodies, after a long summer of drought. meqeʔ “SNOW” IN hən̓q̓ əmin̓əm̓ (DOWNRIVER HALKOMELEM DIALECT)



Physical Observations Physical observations like smell, appearance, colour, and turbidity of failing water sample sources help us build patterns to identify poor water quality. The first fail of the year on June 6th was accompanied by scummy surface waters, an oil scent, and slightly cloudy water. Later that summer, on August 19, we observed a strong rotten egg scent, grey coloured water, and slightly cloudy water before determining a failing E. coli count. On October 14th, Olympic Villages samples had a geomean of 906.46 E. coli/100ml, the highest MPN of the year for this location. The water that day smelled of sewage and was cloudy in appearance. On the last failing water quality date of the year, December 9th, the water had an acrid (strong unpleasant) smell, scummy surface, and cloudy, green-brown water. 100% of the failing water samples came from water that was “slightly cloudy” or “cloudy” water turbidity (clarity). 100% of the failing water samples also came from water that is recorded as having an unusual smell. 50% of the failing water samples came from water that was an unusual colour, with green-brown or grey water. While these physical observations do not necessarily mean that E. coli levels are high, they can be a helpful indicator that water quality is not optimal. For example, a rotten-egg/sulphur smell at low tide can come from the dimethyl sulphide produced by bacteria as they digest dead phytoplankton.

Figure 14. Sadie and Jesse collecting data at OVA.

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BROKERS’ BAY 2021 E. coli levels in Olympic Village were markedly lower than in previous years. In 2020 Olympic Village passed 67% of the time and in 2019 the same site passed 36% of the time. In 2021, Olympic Village met water quality standards 88.9% of the time, with a total of 4 failing days out of 36 total sample events. Failing water quality results occurred in the latter half of the year, in June, August, November, and December (Figure 13. Weekly water sampling results). October had the highest E. coli levels, with a monthly average concentration (MPN) of 250.23 E. coli/100ml (Figure 13. Average Monthly E. coli Per Location). March had the lowest E. coli levels with an average of 2.84 E. coli/100ml (Figure 13). Though Olympic Village generally differed very little in E. coli/100ml counts site-to-site, OVE (Figure 10 map) had the highest overall average at 69.43 E. coli/100ml, and OVA had the lowest at 67.4 E. coli/100ml (Figure 12. Olympic Village: Average E. coli/100ml (MPN) per site). This high average may be related to the structure of the shoreline at this site. While the OVE site area is one of the only shoreline access points in Olympic Village, it may not receive adequate tidal flushing as a result of its isolation from the main False Creek channel. It is interesting to note that OVA had the lowest average E. coli counts at 67.4 E. coli/100ml (MPN). OVA is the farthest east site in Olympic Village - where most people would consider the “end” of False Creek to be. Of our three sample locations in False Creek, Brokers’ Bay had the best year-round water quality, meeting recreational water quality standards 97.2% of the time. Brokers’ Bay failed to meet water quality standards only once in late May with a failing geomean of 306.94 E. coli/100ml (Figure 17. monthly Water Sample Results). November had the highest E. coli/100ml concentrations with an average of 115.17 E. coli/100ml and February had the lowest E. coli counts with an average of 1.31 E. coli/100ml (Figure 8. Average Monthly E. coli per Sample Location).

Brokers’ Bay Pass/Fail Rate

Figure 15. Map of Brokers’ Bay sampling locations.

Figure 16. Brokers’ Bay Pass/Fail Rate



Like Olympic Village, the differences in E. coli levels site-to-site in Brokers’ Bay are not great in size. However, it is important to point out that the two highest site averages are at BBA and BBB, which are situated on the Granville Island/Maritime Market Marina side of Brokers’ Bay (Figure 15. Map of Brokers’ Bay sampling locations). Their higher average may be due to poor water circulation within the Marina. The water current stagnates in this corner of Brokers’ Bay due water circulation being cut off by the road connecting Granville Island to the Kitsilano area.

Brokers’ Bay: Average E.coli/100ml (mpn) Per Site

Figure 17. Brokers’ Bay: Average E.coli/100ml (mpn) Per Site.

Physical Observations Though water quality was markedly improved in 2021, the scummy surface waters did not. The only failing 2021 geomean (May 28th) for Brokers’ Bay was accompanied by scummy and cloudy water. However, these physical attributes are not unique to failing water quality: As observed in 2020, Brokers’ Bay has a scum problem. We noticed scummy surface waters 50% of the time we sampled water from Brokers’ Bay sample sites (Figure 18. Brokers’ Bay Surface Water Observations). Scum is most frequently observed at sites BBA and BBB, amongst the docks at Maritime Market Marina. It was not uncommon to see oil sheens throughout the sample location, as all the sample sites are situated in and amongst marina and commercial fishing docks. However, all three False Creek sample locations experienced scum-free water seven weeks in a row from July 29th to September 17th. This comes as no surprise as it was a particularly dry summer, with a drought that lasted from June 16th to August 7th and little precipitation through August and mid-September.

Figure 18. Brokers’ Bay Surface Water Observations.

Figure 19. Our super-volunteer, Lesley, sampling water at Brokers’ Bay.




VANIER PARK Vanier Park met Canadian Recreational Water Quality Guidelines 91.4% of the time it was sampled in 2021. This sample location had a failing geomean a total of three times out of the 35 times sampling was conducted throughout the year (Appendix A. Weekly Geomean Per Sample Location). The water quality at Vanier Park on October 14th was the poorest water quality we sampled in False Creek during 2021. The geomean on October 14th was >2419.6 E. coli/100ml, the maximum concentration of E. coli quantifiable using the IDEXX system without diluting the sample and over 6 times Health Canada’s limit for single sample E. coli concentration for recreational water quality. Vanier Park also had the highest monthly E. coli average during October, with a geomean of 571.05 E. coli/100ml. January and February had exceptional water quality, each with an average spatial geomean of 1.00 E. coli/100ml (Figure 13. Comparing Average Monthly E. coli/100ml Levels: Olympic Village 2020 and Olympic Village 2021).

Figure 20. Sadie processing E. coli samples.

Changes in average E. coli levels site-to-site differed the least of all False Creek monitoring locations (Figure 23. Vanier Park: Average E. coli/100ml (mpn) Per Site). VPA’s average yearly E. coli level (91.12) was only .01 E. coli/100ml higher than site VPB and VPC.

Vanier Park Pass/Fail Rate

Figure 21. Map of Vanier Park sampling locations.

Figure 22. Vanier Park Pass/Fail Rate.

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Vanier Park: Average E.coli/100ml (mpn) Per Site

Figure 23. Vanier Park: Average E. coli/100ml (mpn) Per Site.

Physical Observations Failing water quality at Vanier Park was usually accompanied by a few physical clues: cloudy water, a scummy surface, and an unpleasant odour. When water failed on both June 18th and October 14th, the water was recorded as having a scummy surface, unpleasant/sewage odour, and cloudy waters. On November 25th, a failing water quality day, the water was recorded as being very cloudy, with very limited visibility. In Vanier Park’s case, cloudy water is not an indicator of poor water quality because of its location along the Fraser River plume. Silty river water often makes its way to Kitsilano, Spanish Banks, and the head of False Creek, creating lighter, cloudier waters. Cloudy or slightly cloudy water was observed 28 of the 35 (80%) sample collection days at Vanier Park.

Figure 24. Water Monitoring Coordinator, Imogene, sampling at VPB.



Observations WILDLIFE

Figure 25. Wildlife observations.




False Creek is home to a variety of species throughout the year. We tally the wildlife observed during each of our sampling events. Wildlife in False Creek is particularly susceptible to the variety of pollution in their home and biodiversity is an indicator of environmental health. The most common species we observed were American Crows all year round, Common Goldeneye in the winter, Canada Geese in the spring, and schools of fish in the summer. Many large schools of Northern Anchovy and Herring were spotted all throughout False Creek in the spring, summer, and early fall of 2021. Volunteers and community partners of Fraser Riverkeeper noted that the widespread abundance of schools of fry this past season was unusual and more prevalent than recent years. This could be due to the near-decade of work the Squamish Streamkeepers have put into making False Creek a more habitable environment for natural species that, a century ago, would have been abundant in the area. Since 2014, the group has been covering toxic creosote pilings with plastic, which has allowed Herring and other native fish to lay eggs on the surface of the pilings.

Figure 26. Ducks at Vanier Park.

RECREATIONAL USERS Our sample sites are situated amongst one of Vancouver’s most well-used active transportation corridors, the Seawall. Steps away from our sampling locations, thousands of people walk, bike, skate, and scoot along the paths every day. False Creek is a protected water body, so it is home to numerous rowing, kayaking, and dragon boating clubs whose membership is in the thousands. The False Creek Rowing Club, Vancouver Water Adventures, and Creekside Kayaks are three places in False Creek where people rent boats and boards for use in False Creek. In the summertime, the waterway can become extremely busy with paddlers, recreational boaters, commercial tours, jet skiers, and ferries all sharing the narrow inlet. It is a rare occurrence not to see a paddler on our sampling days, even in the middle of winter. Not only is False Creek host to a variety of recreational activities, but it is also the most popular place in Downtown Vancouver to moor and anchor pleasure crafts year-round because of its shelter from storms. There are 14 active marinas in False Creek, and over 120 anchored boats during the peak summer season. Even in the winter, there is an active community of 30-50 anchored liveaboard residents, mostly anchored east of Charleston Park.

Figure 27. Kayaker paddling on False Creek.




POLLUTION False Creek is a well-loved area, but being a popular recreational hub has its downside: pollution. The level of litter at Olympic Village overshadows the other two sites and makes up a majority of the litter data we collect. While Brokers’ Bay and Vanier Park are relatively litter-free, it’s hard to walk along the shore of the Olympic Village Seawall without seeing a plethora of trash littering the rocks. Olympic Village’s location in a high density neighbourhood exposes the shoreline to high levels of pedestrian traffic, and with it comes cigarette butts, coffee cups, other single-use containers, and more. Similar to previous sampling years, the number one item we observed throughout the year was cigarette butts, followed by beverage bottles and cans, and litter related to take-out/one time use containers and cutlery (Figure 28. Litter Observed at our False Creek Sampling Locations 2021). It was not uncommon to observe these types of garbage floating on the surface of the water in Olympic Village, or along the shore. On occasion, the unusually clear water we experienced during summer 2021 coupled with low tides allowed us to see the bottom of False Creek at Olympic Village and Brokers’ Bay. From the dock at site OVA, we were able to observe numerous shopping carts, motorized tools, a variety of garbage, construction pylons, parts of sunken boats, and so much more lining the bottom of False Creek. This was the first year we regularly saw the bottom to confirm.

Figure 28. Litter Observed at our False Creek Sampling Locations 2021. SWIM DRINK FISH


ADVOCACY AND ACTION Vancouver Plastic Cleanup In June 2021, Fraser Riverkeeper launched the Vancouver Plastic Cleanup by securing funding to install, maintain, and oversee three Seabins in False Creek. Seabins are trash trapping devices that are affixed to docks and use a motor to filter surface water through a mesh bag, collecting garbage and microplastic in the process. This summer, three Seabins were installed at marinas across Granville Island, including Granville Island Public Dock, Sea Village Marina, and Maritime Market Marina Ltd. These sites were selected due to the significant amount of floatable debris concentrated in those areas. By collecting floatable litter, the Seabins allow us to collect data on what type of trash is circulating throughout False Creek. Every two weeks, our staff and teams of volunteers conduct waste characterizations, which are thorough audits of the Seabin contents, so we can keep track of trash in our waterbodies.

Figure 29. Seabin waste characterization (left), working seabin (right).

The International Trash Trapping Network (ITTN) put together a report for 63 trash trapping devices across the world (Figure 30), as well as a personalized report with the results from our three trash skimmers around Granville Island (Figure 29). As part of this network, we are collecting data and harnessing the value of trash traps for science, policy, and education. To estimate the total trash diverted and tiny trash diverted for 2021, ITTN created a regression model using data collected from many samples. Their model uses relationships between total debris weight and total anthropogenic debris weight and total count of small plastic pieces to estimate these values based upon the total debris weights reported through our program. ʔi ʔə čxʷ ʔəw ʔəy̓ ʔal̓? “HOW ARE YOU?” IN hən̓q̓ əmin̓əm̓ (DOWNRIVER HALKOMELEM DIALECT)




International Trash Trap Network GRANVILLE ISLAND
















Figure 30. Granville Island results from the International Trash Trapping Network

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Figure 31. International Trash Trapping Network 2021 results. SWIM DRINK FISH


Indigenous Culture Awareness Projects As we advocate for our waters, we are committed to building relationships and interconnectedness with Indigenous communities through consultation and partnership. Our work endeavours to support Indigenous rights to sovereignty, self-determination, and free access to swimmable, drinkable, fishable water. We have specifically been working to update our pages on Swim Guide to acknowledge and honour First Nations perspectives and Traditional Knowledge regarding the place names of Metro Vancouver locations and the Indigenous history created on this land, as well as to implement them into our water monitoring and protection programs. We are also focusing on sharing information on First Nations culture through both blog posts and social media. Two blogs in which we have done this include our Keeping Coast Salish Languages Alive blog, where we focus on two of the endangered local Coast Salish languages, Halkomelem and Squamish, and how language acts as the foundation of a culture. As language enables the sharing of knowledge, traditions, memories, and stories between generations. Helping to demonstrate the need to spread awareness of these endangered languages in order to help keep First Nations culture alive. The second blog is one where we share 5 Ways to Immerse Yourself in First Nations Culture Around Metro Vancouver. Working to showcase the rich and diverse First Nations culture that is very present in Metro Vancouver and providing different opportunities to experience and learn about Indigenous cultures. Lastly, to help revitalize First Nations languages, we created a new weekly feature with the hashtag #SpreadTheWord that shares different translated words and phrases of the local Halkomelem and Squamish languages every Thursday on our social media channels (Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram). This works to acknowledge, share, and honour First Nations Traditional Knowledge and culture with others.

Voices for Water SEA2CITY DESIGN CHALLENGE The City of Vancouver is supporting work that will address sea level rise and reached out to us as we attended a False Creek Coastal Adaptation Community Conversation. City of Vancouver’s latest sea level rise project is the Sea2City Design Challenge (Sea2City) which focuses on False Creek and is a proactive and collaborative approach to reimagine our shoreline. Sea2City brings together international and local practitioners in landscape architecture, urban planning, environmental sciences, and engineering with experience in planning and designing for sea level rise and coastal flooding. Fraser Riverkeeper is a Sea2City participant, joining public learning and design events and advisory group sessions and workshops. Outputs from Sea2City will be used to inform the next phase of the City’s Coastal Adaptation Plan. CITY OF VANCOUVER HEALTHY WATERS PLAN The Healthy Waters plan (formerly the Sewage and Rainwater Management Plan or SRMP) is being developed in response to motions from both Vancouver City Council and the Vancouver Park Board to take accelerated action on eliminating combined sewer overflows (CSO) by 2030. While the City of Vancouver has been working over several decades on this complex issue, more integrated and innovative solutions are needed so that we can clean up our waters while responding to key imperatives and drivers. The City knows they can’t do this work alone, and recognizes the significant contributions that others have made. Fraser Riverkeeper is a member of the Project Advisory Group of partners and stakeholders to help inform, advise, and shape the Healthy Waters Plan. METRO VANCOUVER’S PUBLIC ADVISORY COMMITTEE, LIQUID WASTE MANAGEMENT PLAN Metro Vancouver is establishing a public advisory committee to provide expert knowledge and relevant experience to inform the update of the Liquid Waste Management Plan. The current plan was approved by the provincial government in 2011 and established the coordinated approach for wastewater management in the Metro Vancouver region. Before approving the updated plan, the Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy must be satisfied that there has been adequate engagement with the public and Indigenous Nations and peoples. ʔəw sya čxʷ ʔal̓ “TAKE CARE” IN hən̓q̓ əmin̓əm̓ (DOWNRIVER HALKOMELEM DIALECT)



Lauren Brown-Hornor, Vancouver Waterkeeper and President of Fraser Riverkeeper, has been recommended as a potential candidate to represent the local wastewater community (environmental organization) as the project team feels our contributions would be invaluable as they update the Liquid Waste Management Plan to ensure continued protection of human health and the environment in the face of evolving challenges and societal perspectives. BURRARD INLET WATER QUALITY ROUNDTABLE Fraser Riverkeeper is a member of the quarterly Burrard Inlet Water Quality Roundtable and the biannual Burrard Inlet Water Quality Monitoring Coordination Meetings led by the Səlil̓ilw̓ətaʔɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Nation and the BC Ministry of Environment. Some of the goals of this roundtable and meeting include program comparison and collaborations, priority coordination, and data sharing. These groups include members of municipal, provincial, and federal government, representatives for the local First Nations, and non-profit organizations engaged in water monitoring. FRASER VALLEY ILLEGAL DUMPING ALLIANCE The Fraser Valley Illegal Dumping Alliance (FVIDA) is a coalition of citizens, businesses, organizations, and local government dedicated to finding solutions to the issue of ongoing illegal dumping in Chilliwack. The main goal of FVIDA is to raise awareness and inspire behavioural changes to curb illegal dumping. We do this through a combination of large cleanup events, small ‘hot-spot’ cleanups, signage, education outreach, and social media campaigns. Since officially launching in 2015, FVIDA’s efforts have removed upwards of 125 tonnes of illegally dumped waste from sensitive freshwater habitat and contributed to a 60% increase in reporting of dumping to Conservation Officers. OUR WATER BC Our Water BC is a joint initiative of organizations and individuals working to make sure waters in BC are healthy and thriving for everyone who lives here. We work to ensure British Columbians have a say in how their water is cared for. We provide a voice to those who don’t have one, including iconic species like salmon. We help our political leaders understand that British Columbians see water as the province’s most precious natural resource and defending it is a public priority. DIVERSITY, EQUITY, AND INCLUSION As we advocate for our waters, we are committed to building relationships and interconnectedness with all communities through consultation, partnership, and the sharing of stories that connect us all to the water. Our work endeavours to celebrate, share, and support everyone’s rights to free access to swimmable, drinkable, fishable water. To highlight and celebrate the incredible work done by different water leaders of colour in Vancouver, we created the blog series: POC Connections to Water and Perspectives. This blog series aims to connect and feature the work of POC water leaders in Vancouver by sharing their personal stories of connections to water, research, and the actions they take to protect our waters along with their perspectives on some of the issues that POC face. We are very fortunate to have featured three water leaders so far. These leaders include Elaine Leung, the founder and Executive Director of the Vancouver-based charity Sea Smart. Lina Azeez, the Connected Waters Campaign Manager at Watershed Watch Salmon Society. And lastly, Anuradha Rao, the Senior Environmental Specialist for Marine Ecosystems at Səlil̓ilw̓ətaʔɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Nation. Moving forward we plan to expand this blog series by connecting with and featuring more water leaders of colour and highlighting and celebrating the incredible work they do to protect our waters.



NEXT STEPS AND RECOMMENDATIONS The following are next steps and associated recommendations based on the results, trends and and lessons learned from our 2021 Community Monitoring Program. Building on the success of the community science water monitoring program over the past four years, Swim Drink Fish will continue its year-round community science recreational water quality monitoring at its Water Monitoring Hubs and will share results on Swim Guide weekly. Swim Drink Fish will continue to collaborate, engage, and train partners and organizations interested in supplemental water quality monitoring at their local beaches where gaps in water monitoring may exist and desire for additional water quality data is strong. Swim Drink Fish will build on its existing community science-based work and provide guidance and training to new interested partners and organizations as they join the water community of practice. In Vancouver, Swim Drink Fish is looking at additional sites to engage in community-based water monitoring to promote swimming, in particular at CRAB Park. CRAB Park, often referred to as Create a Real Available Beach, is one of the only beaches located in the Downtown Eastside. This beach located in the east end of Vancouver faces some of the worst beach water quality in the City, and would benefit from supplemental water quality sampling at the beach before diving in. Swim Drink Fish will continue to engage with the Səlil̓ilw̓ətaʔɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Nation through our water monitoring work and through the Burrard Inlet Water Quality Objectives. In Ontario, Swim Drink Fish is working with First Nations partners to engage in data sharing, knowledge brokering, and developing best practices for establishing, maintaining, and sustaining Indigenous hubs. We will continue to find opportunities to engage with First Nations to support their environmental goals and consult with them on our work.

City of Vancouver Recommendations The following are recommendations to the City of Vancouver. We are one of many groups collaborating on making the best possible recommendations based on programs. As we sit on several advisory boards, including COV Healthy Waters Plan, Sea2City Design Challenge, and Metro Vancouver’s LWMP Advisory Group. These recommendations echo what is being shared by other organizations across the region. 1. DESIGNATE WEST PORTION OF FALSE CREEK AS A PRIMARY CONTACT WATER BODY: As the City of Vancouver continues to demonstrate great leadership in addressing water quality issues, we recommend they institute a plan for reviving False Creek, following a previous directive to upgrade its official designation from a secondary contact recreation water body to a primary contact waterbody: one protecting water for uses of all kinds, including swimming. False Creek is currently designated as a secondary contact recreation water body, meaning it is not currently protected for swimming. Primary contact recreation activities, like swimming and surfing, are defined as any water activity where your entire body is submerged. Secondary contact recreational water activities are defined as activities where only your limbs (arms and legs) are in contact with the water, such as when engaging in activities like canoeing, kayaking, boating, sailing, rowing, and wading. In 2017 City of Vancouver approved a motion to undertake key actions to improve water quality in False Creek with the ultimate goals to make False Creek swimmable and to restore shellfish harvesting once again. Swim Drink Fish wholeheartedly supports the intention to enact the strongest legal protection possible to make False Creek considered a primary contact water body. Vancouverites currently use and enjoy False Creek for recreational purposes including swimming, paddling and other types of recreational activity where full body submersion is commonplace year round. In 2021, False Creek met Canadian Guidelines for Recreational Water Quality 90% of the time over the past year, and 83% of the time over the past 4 years. This recommendation sleyuhp “DOUGLAS FIR” IN hən̓q̓ əmin̓əm̓ (DOWNRIVER HALKOMELEM DIALECT)



comes with the caveat that False Creek faces other barriers to swimming including boat traffic and physical hazards. From a recreational water quality perspective, False Creek should receive the more protective designation of “primary contact waterbody” in order to have its destination match the actual uses enjoyed in that waterbody. The laws that protect swimmable water can and should be put in place to match the current water uses of False Creek, particularly in areas suitable and safe for swimming. As representatives of recreational water users in Vancouver and beyond— many of which love paddling in False Creek— we share the collective vision of a vibrant and resilient Vancouver waterfront, where people can swim safely in the heart of our city. 2. ADVANCE CONCEPT OF ESTABLISHING DEEP WATER SWIMMING PIER IN VANCOUVER: The City of Vancouver should support creation of a deep water swimming pier in downtown Vancouver, either in the west end of False Creek or Coal Harbour. Not only would this be in line with the City-approved motion from 2017 to make False Creek swimmable (if located in False Creek), but a deep water swimming pier would add to the urban harbour landscape and rekindle human connection. An example is the Harbour Deck by hcma architecture + design for Coal Harbour. Installation of a swimming pier in downtown Vancouver would make the statement that Vancouver takes access to swimmable water seriously. Deep water swimming not only fosters connection to our waters, it inspires a conversation about what’s possible for Vancouver’s social spaces and re-establishing our connection with the marine environment. 3. REDUCE CSO EVENTS: The City of Vancouver should take the lead on improving the aquatic health of its waters by addressing pollution arising from CSOs and urban runoff. This includes reducing and preventing contamination in the receiving waters of Vancouver due to combined sewer overflows. Recommended actions include expediting the timeline for elimination of CSOs before the established deadlines before 2050, reducing and preventing contamination in the receiving waters of Vancouver due to untreated stormwater runoff, and reducing the volume of rainwater entering the combined sewer system by increasing the managed impermeable area. 4. IMPLEMENT GREEN INFRASTRUCTURE TO MITIGATE STORMWATER RUNOFF: The City of Vancouver can also enhance its human and ecological health by improving natural and urban ecosystems and biodiversity. Examples include increasing natural asset and green infrastructure connectivity, enhancing stormwater infiltration where possible to reduce a contributing portion of the stormwater out of CSOs, implementing rainwater management infrastructure (such as the St George Greenway by the City of Vancouver), enhancing rain garden features, and increase restoration and conservation work, such as daylighting creeks (including China Creek), to allow for more flushing into False Creek. 5. IMPLEMENT CLIMATE CHANGE ADAPTATION INFRASTRUCTURE: The City of Vancouver should also prioritize working to minimize physical infrastructure vulnerabilities. Climate change adaptation infrastructure in False Creek such as increased system resilience associated with climate change (extreme weather, sea level rise, increased rainfall, drought, flooding, and emergency preparedness), aging infrastructure, and population growth. The continued work of the Climate Change Adaptation Strategy and the Sea2City Design Challenge are essential to manage climate change threats to infrastructure and water quality. 6. CITY OF VANCOUVER SHOULD IMPLEMENT REAL-TIME SEWAGE OVERFLOW ALERTS: The City of Vancouver should begin real-time reporting for CSO overflows to maintain transparency and honour the public’s right to know. Real-time alerts for sanitary and combined sewer spills allow recreational water users to make informed decisions about when and how to interact with water. No one wants to swim in sewage, or splash and play in the water with their kids when a sanitary sewer is releasing millions of litres of untreated sewage from our homes and businesses into it. The wastewater discharged during a CSO event contains sewage and water laden with bacteria, pathogens, viruses and parasites that can be harmful to the environment and human health.



We applaud Metro Vancouver for beginning real-time CSO public notification in 2022, which will complement the real-time sanitary sewer overflow (SSO) and treatment plant incident notification started in 2020. Metro Vancouver has begun the groundbreaking commitment to implement a communications system that includes real-time alerts for sewage overflows and empowering recreational water users to make informed decisions about when, where, and how to interact with water and better protect public health. The City of Vancouver has an extremely active waterfront that is accessible year-round. Sewer overflows are known to impact recreational water quality and increase a person’s risk of waterborne illness if they come in contact with the polluted water. It is therefore essential to inform the recreational water users of these events year-round. While Metro Vancouver is off to the races with the new map and email notifications systems, there are a few ways to achieve the gold standard for public transparency by enhancing the public reporting methodology to improve transparency of the sewer overflow map, and to better inform the public in real time. Metro Vancouver could consider utilizing a Twitter feed, or equivalent, to ensure public notifications are made immediately, or at least within four hours of the commencement of, awareness of, or reason to suspect the commencement of a release event. Clear Signage. At areas with high levels of recreation on or in the water, real time monitoring should be established at the physical location of the outfall, because not everyone brings their phone on the water. The City of Vancouver operates 39 known CSOs, and until they are separated, the public has a right to know whether, and when, they are flowing. The City of Vancouver should follow Metro Vancouver’s lead and implement real-time alerts for the CSOs it manages.

Figure 32. The Fraser Riverkeeper team.




REFERENCES City of Vancouver, “False Creek Coastal Adaptation Plan.” Retrieved from https://vancouver.ca/green-vancouver/ coastal-adaptation-plan.aspx City of Vancouver, “History of Northeast False Creek History Board.” Retrieved from https://www.citystudiovancouver.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/HistoryBoards2.pdf City of Vancouver, “History of northeast False Creek.” Retrieved from https://vancouver.ca/home-property-development/history-and-background.aspx City of Vancouver (2018), “Options for an Accelerated 10-year Timeline for Addressing Vancouver’s Combined Sewer Overflows.” Retrieved from https://council.vancouver.ca/20190723/documents/motionb5.pdf City of Vancouver (2019). Rain City Strategy: A green rainwater infrastructure and rainwater management initiative. Retrieved from https://vancouver.ca/files/cov/rain-city-strategy.pdf Environment and Climate Change Canada (2013-2018). “Wastewater Systems Effluent Regulations Reported Data.” Retrieved from https://open.canada.ca/data/en/dataset/9e11e114-ef0d-4814-8d93-24af23716489 Fraser Riverkeeper (December, 2018). The False Creek Water Monitoring Program: The First Season Report. Retrieved from https://d3n8a8pro7vhmx.cloudfront.net/fraserriverkeeper/pages/315/attachments/original/1544099830/ Final_Vancouver_False_Creek_Water_Monitoring_Program_-_First_season_report.pdf?1544099830 Health Canada (2012). Guidelines for Canadian Recreational Water Quality, Third Ed. Water, Air and Climate Change Bureau, Healthy Environments and Consumer Safety Branch, Health Canada, Ottawa, Ontario. (Catalogue No H129-15/2012E). IDEXX Laboratories Inc. (2013). “Quanti-Tray/2000 Insert and Most Probable Number (MPN) Table.” Retrieved from https://www.idexx.com/files/quanti-tray-2000-procedure-en.pdf IDEXX Laboratories Inc. (2019). “Colilert.” Retrieved from https://www.idexx.com/files/colilert-procedure-en.pdf [MOE] British Columbia Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy. (2019). Recreational Water Quality Guidelines: Guideline Summary. Water Quality Guideline Series, WQG-02. Victoria, BC. Metro Vancouver. “Iona Island Wastewater Treatment Project”, Retrieved from http://www.metrovancouver.org/ services/liquid-waste/projects-initiatives/iona-island-wwtp-project/Pages/default.aspx Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care. (2018). Operational Approaches for Recreational Water Guideline. Retrieved from http://www.health.gov.on.ca/en/pro/programs/publichealth/oph_standards/docs/ protocols_guidelines/Operational_Approaches_to_Rec_Water_Guideline_2018_en.pdf Phippen, B. & Sutherland, D. (2006). Assessment of bacteriological Indicators in False Creek: With Recommendations for Bacteriological Water Quality Objectives for Recreational Uses. Ministry of Environment Lower Mainland Region. Retrieved from https://www.for.gov.bc.ca/hfd/library/documents/bib97165.pdf



APPENDIX Appendix A: Weekly Geomean per Sample Location MONTH January February March








November December

Sample Date

GEOMEAN (MPN) Olympic Village Brokers’ Bay

Vanier Park


















































































































































Appendix B: Spearman Rank Correlation Tests Spearman Rank Correlation: Olympic Village E.coli (mpn) and Rain (mm)

Appendix B1. Spearman Rank Correlation: Olympic Village E.coli (MPN) and Precipitation (mm)

The Spearman Rank Correlation analysis revealed that E. coli levels in Olympic Village and 48 hour rainfall are positively correlated, though a more moderate correlation with a score of 0.4321116371.

Spearman Rank Correlation: Brokers’ Bay E.coli (mpn) and Rain (mm)

Appendix B2. Spearman Rank Correlation: Brokers’ Bay E.coli (MPN) and Rain (mm)

The Spearman Rank Correlation analysis revealed that E. coli levels in Brokers’ Bay and 48 hour rainfall are positively correlated, though a more moderate correlation than Olympic Village and Vanier Park with a score of 0.401344. SWIM DRINK FISH


Spearman Rank Correlation: Vanier Park E.coli (mpn) and Rain (mm)

Appendix B3. Spearman Rank Correlation: Vanier Park E.coli (MPN) and Rain (mm)

The Spearman Rank Correlation test confirmed our suspicions that rain was related to E. coli levels with a spearman correlation value of 0.469, which indicates a positive relationship between the two variables. Rain and E. coli contamination levels in Vanier Park are the most correlated out of all sample sites in False Creek.



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