Skip to content

West Vancouver’s Wood Creek hit by mystery pollutants

District of West Vancouver says illegal dumping in storm drains likely the cause
Creek Pollution web
Jason Langrish and dog Saffi stand next to Wood Creek as an unknown foamy substance tumbles down the current. The District of West Vancouver is looking into the source.

A West Vancouver resident is demanding to know who is fouling his favourite creek. And he wants them to stop.

Jason Langrish said in his daily walks with his dog along Wood Creek in the Caulfeild area, he’s seen almost weekly deposits of sludge building up in the water near Keith Park.

It has been brown and looks like sewage, although it doesn’t have the telltale smell, he said. Other times, he’s seen a non-natural foam building up on the water.

“It was very disgusting,” he said. “Clearly, somebody's dumping something in here.”

Langrish said he’s made numerous reports to the District of West Vancouver about the pollution, but he’s become frustrated with the lack of results.

“I probably called them 10 times. I gave up. It's sort of subsided for a while. But it's come back lately,” he said. “The whole reason people live on the North Shore is for the nature, and the recreation – and you telling me someone can dump garbage into a creek that's basically fish habitat? And there's nothing that the municipality can do?”

Langrish said he’d like to see someone held accountable for the pollution, or at least have it stop.

In an email, district spokeswoman Donna Powers said staff have made great efforts to track down the polluter but had no luck.

“Staff have investigated the various junctures of storm drains that might lead to that spot and investigated connecting channels. Dye tests have been conducted to trace the flow, but those tests have not identified a flow pattern into the creek. Booms have also been placed, with no success in identifying a source,” she said.

Although there is a sewage line that runs under the creek, staff have ruled that out.

“They checked all the sewer line cross connections in the area with dye testing. They accessed several homes in the area and flushed dye down the toilets. They lifted manhole covers to check for dye and they walked the creek several times. The dye is fluorescent yellow or orange and can't be missed,” Powers said.

Most likely, the source is someone either deliberately or inadvertently dumping something that shouldn’t be dumped into a storm drain in the residential area above, Powers said.

Staff and the West Vancouver Streamkeepers Society have stepped up public education in the area.

“Storm drains collect water runoff from everywhere in the urban environment, including homes, roads, parking lots and developments.This water flows directly into streams untreated. It often contains harmful contaminants that can damage fish and their habitats. The runoff water collects litter, oil, gas, fertilizer, pesticides and anything else that will float or dissolve,” she said. “If the drain is outdoors, chances are, it's a storm drain.”

Anyone caught harming fish habitat or dumping deleterious substances can face penalties under the Fisheries Act.

Streamkeepers volunteer Keith Moger said Wood Creek has occasional returns of coho and chum salmon as well as a healthy cutthroat trout population. And it does feed into Eagle Creek, which is also fish bearing.

In 2018, a chemical spill killed about 70 trout on Wood Creek and the source was never found, but Streamkeepers believed it also likely came from storm drains.

Moger said the minute the substance appears again, they’ll have someone ready to collect a sample. The group has posted a sign next to the creek with directions to immediately alert them to any pollution.

“The main message from the Streamkeepers is please monitor and report,” Moger said.

The district is also asking the same. Anyone who witnesses a spill, paint, or chemicals being washed into a storm drain, or a contaminated stream, are asked to contact the District of West Vancouver immediately at 604-925-7100.