For Immediate Release, July 18, 2019
Vancouverites Can Now Access Recreational Water Quality Information at False Creek Year-Round
Volunteer citizen scientists needed to support charity’s weekly sampling at popular water hotspots
Vancouver: Fraser Riverkeeper, an initiative of Swim Drink Fish, expanded its Vancouver Water Monitoring Program this summer, offering Vancouverites access to water quality information from recreational water hot-spots throughout the year. Each week, water samples are collected by staff and volunteers, analyzed at Swim Drink Fish’s in-house IDEXX lab, and results shared with the public on Swim Guide, a free app and website.
Vancouver, BC – The expanded Vancouver Water Monitoring Program launched this summer at Swim Drink Fish’s in-house IDEXX lab on Granville Island. The program engages citizens in year-round water quality monitoring, data-sharing, and stewardship to ensure recreational water users can reliably access information year-round on the beaches and bodies of water where they recreate.
The program builds on the organization's water monitoring program of 2018 and is working to extend sampling beyond the three False Creek locations (Broker’s Bay, Olympic Village and Vanier Park, popular yet vulnerable locations that represent areas with a high frequency of recreational water users) to include additional Vancouver locations in the coming months. CRAB Park and Trout Lake, the only two locations available for residents of East Vancouver to access the city’s natural waters, will be added for weekly monitoring by Swim Drink Fish.
Swim Drink Fish tests for E.coli levels in the water at its in-house, IDEXX microbiological laboratory on Granville Island. As E. coli is an indicator of sewage, the more E. coli present in the water the greater the risk to public health and the environment. The team is monitoring to help identify the source of pollution spikes and investigate potential contamination concerns. Results are then shared as raw data on the Fraser Riverkeeper website and published weekly to Swim Guide, a free app and website.
The Vancouver Water Monitoring Program supplements the data provided by Vancouver Coastal Health as tested by Metro Vancouver, and, in the case of Trout Lake, tested by the City of Vancouver. While these government agencies provide water quality information in the summer months, Swim Drink Fish’s team of staff and volunteers sample and provide data year-round.
Monthly testing ensures that Vancouverites who recreate on the water in the wetter months, typically in fall, winter, and spring, maintain access to consistent and reliable water quality data they need to make informed decisions about when and where to interact with water. Better access to data can prevent the spread of waterborne illnesses by making it easy for people to know when their water is contaminated and when it is clean for swimming.
The Vancouver Water Monitoring Program is made possible by our team of dedicated citizen scientists who are trained and overseen by our Vancouver Water Monitoring Coordinator. Vancouverites who are interested in becoming citizen scientists can find more information and sign up to assist with weekly water sampling at fraserriverkeeper.ca/volunteer or by contacting Katie Moore at [email protected].
“We are thrilled to expand our recreational water quality monitoring program, in the heart of Vancouver, to provide transparent, consistent, and reliable data for recreational water users throughout the year. Our community-based citizen science monitoring program empowers people to not only care for their local water bodies but to work towards protecting them as well.” Katie Moore, Vancouver Water Monitoring Coordinator, Swim Drink Fish Canada.
"The City of Vancouver boasts an extremely active waterfront that is accessible and utilized year-round, and recreational water users have a right to know the state of the water. Expanding our program to include sampling beyond the summer season and into wet-weather seasons will help us better understand how E.coli levels correlate with the typically wet conditions in the fall, winter, and spring. " Lauren Hornor, Riverkeeper and Partnership Lead for Western Canada with Swim Drink Fish Canada.
- This project was inspired by the success of the Toronto Harbour Monitoring Program, where Lake Ontario Waterkeeper has been collecting water samples and testing for E. coli since 2016. Waterkeeper collects water samples from three main locations in the Inner Harbour, and each of these locations is updated weekly on Swim Guide.
- An estimated 400,000 Canadians get sick every year from swimming in polluted waters.
- As Metro Vancouver works toward BC's goal to eliminate sewage overflows by 2050, the city is undergoing separation of its antiquated combined sewer overflow system.
About Swim Drink Fish and Fraser Riverkeeper
Swim Drink Fish is a Canadian charity working for a swimmable, drinkable, fishable future since its launch in 2001. By blending science, law, education, and storytelling with technology, Swim Drink Fish empowers millions of people to know and safeguard their waters. Fraser Riverkeeper, an initiative of Swim Drink Fish, was established in 2004 and has been an active Swim Guide Affiliate since 2011.
About Swim Guide
With over 3 millions all-time users, Swim Guide offers water quality alerts, beach descriptions, photos, and directions for 8,000 beaches in Canada, the U.S.A., as well as Mexico, the Bahamas, Ireland, France, Kenya, New Zealand, and Australia. The Swim Guide app is available in English, French, and Spanish.
Molly O’Ray, Vancouver Water Monitoring Program Manager, Swim Drink Fish
E: [email protected] P: 604-354-7978