This summer (2018) we launched the False Creek Water Monitoring Program, a new citizen science initiative by Fraser Riverkeeper and Swim Drink Fish Canada. The program built on our previous Burrard Inlet and False Creek monitoring in 2017 and established a robust monitoring hub, equipped with an in-house lab on Granville Island.
After five months of sampling, we are thrilled to share the First Season Report of our False Creek Water Monitoring Program with our supporters, water recreation users, and the general public who, like us, care deeply for the health of the heart of Vancouver. Read on to find an overview of our program and findings or access the report by clicking here.
The False Creek Water Monitoring Program
From July through November, Swim Drink Fish staff and volunteers gathered weekly on the waterfront to collect water samples and record observations about water quality in Vancouver’s False Creek. The water samples collected were analysed at the in-house Swim Drink Fish IDEXX lab, and the results were shared weekly on the Swim Guide app.
Routine testing is important because water quality is like the weather—it changes daily. Unless waters are tested regularly and results are communicated to the public as quickly as possible, people don’t know where or when water quality meets health guidelines. They may unknowingly spend time in contaminated water or may avoid outdoor recreation entirely because they fear water quality is poor all the time.
The False Creek Sample Locations
Sample locations were selected because they are places commonly used by recreational water users. We focused on places where people are routinely observed falling into the water, where dogs and children wade in the shallows, where kayakers are drenched by splashing water, and where adventurous individuals dive into False Creek to cool off. Those water users are most vulnerable to contracting waterborne illnesses if they come into contact with contaminated waters and thus most interested in learning more about water quality.
From west to east, those sites were:
- Sunset Beach
- Brokers’ Bay
- Alder Bay
- Charleson Park
- David Lam Park
- Habitat Island
- Olympic Village
The Release of the First Season Report
- Water quality in False Creek generally meets government guidelines but every site failed to meet guidelines on one specific day of sampling;
- Bacteria levels are highest in the easternmost part of False Creek, near Olympic Village;
- E. coli levels tend to be higher when water is warmer;
- E. coli levels were higher during low tide;
- Something happened around August 8 that caused bacteria levels to spike;
- Plastic litter is a problem;
- People are on the water all year-round.
Looking Ahead to 2019 of the False Creek Water Monitoring Program
During the summer and fall of 2019, the monitoring team will return to sample the popular yet vulnerable recreational water sites in False Creek. These sites are used daily by recreational water users, such as paddlers, sailors, and boaters. Swim Drink Fish staff along with a team of well-trained volunteers will monitor recreational water quality in False Creek once a week, on Thursdays. If you are interested in joining our volunteer team for the 2019 season, please email our Outreach Coordinator Molly at Molly@swimdrinkfish.ca.
The long-term goal of our program is to expand it to monitor year-round while increasing the number of samples collected at each site. By doing so, we may improve our understanding of water quality during the rainy months and provide more accurate water quality information to the many people who use False Creek all year long.
We have our amazing volunteer team and incredible supporters to thank for the success of our program in 2018. We are excited to see what our community can achieve together for the 2019 season!