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Coquitlam trying to find the source of fish kill

It's not yet known what colourless substance drained from the storm drain into Hoy Creek, but investigators are trying to find out what the pollutant was and where it came from
Hoy Creek fish kill
City of Coquitlam is trying to find out what killed thousands of fish in Hoy Creek Hatchery last Wednesday.

Identifying and sourcing the toxic substance that killed thousands of salmon fry in Hoy Creek last week is proving to be challenging.

But for now, the City of Coquitlam is ruling out chlorine as the poison that killed nearly 3,000 salmon fry in tanks at Hoy Creek hatchery plus unknown numbers of other salmon, crayfish and trout in the creek.

Water samples have been sent to a lab for testing, stated Verne Kucy, the city’s environmental projects manager, and results should be known later this week.

“Results of on-site water samples taken during the initial response did not show levels of concern for fish in regards to chlorine or pH,” Kucy said in a statement to the Tri-City News

But identifying the chemical and the source of the spill may be difficult, he noted, even though city workers were able to get to the spill quickly when informed last Wednesday.

When workers arrived, the toxic substance was no longer being released into the creek, making it harder to identify but staff have been able to pinpoint the area of contamination because there were living fish above the area of the spill.

However, tracing back the source of the spill is difficult because there are “several hundred homes” including multi-family homes in the area served by the storm water discharge pipes, according to Kucy.

The toxic material did not leave a trace, unlike oil and fill spills that leave behind a residue and the material that killed the fish appeared to be colourless.

“We are awaiting lab testing results of the water samples collected last Wednesday and Thursday and we expect the results to be available to us later this week,” Kucy further stated.

Wednesday, May 29, a member of the public contacted the city of Coquitlam with concerns about dead fish near the Hoy Creek Hatchery, located off Princess Crescent, a block from the City Centre Aquatic Complex. 

Volunteers with the Hoy/Scott Watershed Society said they were devastated by the fish kill, which destroyed about half of the coho salmon fry volunteers had been raising in tanks to restock the local creek.