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Here are some facts about water quality and sewage in Metro Vancouver and beyond: 

• An estimated 100,000 Canadians get sick every year from swimming in polluted waters.[1]

• Annually Metro Vancouver discharges 30 billion litres of waste-water into the Fraser River and the Georgia Strait from combined sewage outfall (CSO) pipes

• Along with disease-causing organisms like coliform bacteria (which is what Health Authorities test for) CSOs put over 200 kinds of chemicals into our water bodies

• As noted in a Vancouver Sun article: “Vancouver is about halfway through separating its system, which will likely take another 30 years and cost the taxpayers another $1 billion. New Westminster and Burnaby, which started the separation process later, are further behind in duplicating their systems…. between 2010 and 2012, the three cities spent a combined $107 million in sewer separation. Once the system is separated the old combined sewer would become a storm sewer.”

• The degree to which CSO overflows affect sea life and marine mammals is unknown. BC’s orca populations are categorized as some of the most toxic mammals in the world due to bioaccumulation of pollutants. [2]

Background on Swim Guide

The innovative app originated with a team from the Lake Ontario Waterkeeper chapter, which set out to determine if it was safe to swim in Lake Ontario. Frustrated by how difficult it was for the public to find recreational water-quality data, they began seeking ways to inform the public themselves. Seven years later, after beta testing by Fraser Riverkeeper in 2011 and input from more than 100 different beach monitoring sources—covering over 1,300 beaches a day— North Americans from the St. Lawrence River to Miami to Los Angeles can now check the status and cleanliness of their local beaches in real time.


Swim Guide in the News

'No Swimming' Advisories Issued for Three West Vancouver Beaches... Is Your Beach Safe?

[1] “Health Canada has estimated that using the guideline values for the recommended indicators of faecal contamination for fresh and marine waters will correspond to a seasonal gastrointestinal illness rate of approximately 1-2% (10-20 illnesses per 1000 swimmers).”

[2] and O'Neill, S, and J West. "Marine Distribution, Life History Traits, and the Accumulation of Polychlorinated Biphenyls in Chinook Salmon from Puget Sound,Washington." Transactions of the American Fisheries Societies. 138.3 (2009): 616-32.

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