The Vancouver Water Monitoring Program, formerly known as the False Creek Water Monitoring Program, is a year-round, citizen-science initiative. Launched in the summer of 2018, the project focuses on testing and making public the recreational water quality data in the heart of Vancouver. The primary purpose of the program is the protection of public health from contaminated water with the goal of providing the public with current, reliable water quality data.
Each week, a staff and volunteer team records observations about water quality and collects water samples at multiple locations in and around False Creek. The team then interprets results at our in-house IDEXX lab on Granville Island, and immediately shares results through Swim Guide, on our webpage, and our social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram).
According to the third edition of the Guidelines for Canadian Recreational Water Quality, an estimated 400,000 Canadians get sick every year from swimming in polluted waters. The Vancouver Water Monitoring Program is our response to that. Over 2018, Fraser Riverkeeper focused on sampling well-used recreational hotspots around False Creek where stand-up paddlers can be seen falling into the water, dogs and children wade at the shallows, kayakers are drenched by splashing water, and adventurous individuals plunge in to cool off.
Our first year of the Vancouver Water Monitoring Program laid the foundation for what will become a robust, year-round, long-term community monitoring program. We will be scaling up our program to take more samples to be representative of the water quality likely encountered by users. We will also be scaling out beyond False Creek to include both CRAB Park and Trout Lake in our program. CRAB Park is an important new testing location because it is the only access point to the beach for East Vancouver. Unfortunately, among cities that report their data, the combined sewer outfall with the highest rate of flow is just 0.3km from CRAB Park.
As we enter the 2019 season, our goal will continue to be to provide up-to-date recreational water quality data so that citizens can make informed decisions and feel more comfortable knowing when their water is clean for recreating. We aim to promote a healthy relationship with water because when people are connected to their local waterbodies, they are more likely to protect them.
- The current program builds on our 2018 False Creek Water Monitoring Program which demonstrated an appetite for a year-round, citizen-science monitoring hub around downtown Vancouver waters.
- This program 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 has a combined sewer overflow (CSO) pipe flowing into it. These locations are on Swim Guide and are updated weekly.
- 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 a separation of its antiquated combined sewer overflow system.
- In 2016, 3,652,000 m3 of untreated wastewater flowed into False Creek over 495 hours from the Heather Street CSO.
- The 6 CSO points nearest to CRAB Park discharged an estimated 15,726,315 cubic metres of sewage in 2016, and 18,869,229 cubic metres in 2017.
Thank You LUSH!
Thank you to the generous support of LUSH Cosmetics for funding Fraser Riverkeeper’s in-house, microbiological laboratory on Granville Island - making our weekly sampling possible.