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PoCo contamination culprit found

City of Port Coquitlam to fine homeowner, contractor for dumping chemicals into storm sewer system
spill 2
A spill of what was believed to be paint in Hyde Creek last weekend.

A contractor and a Port Coquitlam homeowner will be penalized following a series of spills that contaminated Hyde Creek recently, according to a city official.

Just a day or two before the Hyde Creek Watershed Society was about to celebrate its 20th annual Salmon Festival last Sunday, paint was discovered in the creek near the society’s hatchery. It followed a spill a week earlier that appeared to be caused by portable toilet chemicals and waste.

Bob Bell, PoCo's section manager of streets, said this past weekend he and his staff went upstream and discovered a home being renovated that had a portable toilet outside. The spills seemed to be occurring at the end of the work day so the staff staked the home out after hours Monday.

“Just like clockwork, there it was,” said Bell, who praised his staff for discovering the source of the spills. “One of our staff went to the back lane to see over the fence and saw them washing [contaminants] into the catch basin. We went to the front of the house and told them to stop and let them know the damage they’d caused in the last little while.

“I’m thankful we found it.”

He said the city’s bylaw department will be issuing notices to the homeowner and contractor.

“I can’t tell you where it’s going but we’re definitely going to fine these people,” said Bell. “We can’t allow this to happen.

“The more discouraging thing is people who plead ignorance to this.”

Although the society was happy to see the recent heavy rains — because the creek had been drying up, inhibiting spawning salmon — the spills put a cloud over the creek darker than the ones dispensing precipitation. 

“It just can’t be good for anybody. The wildlife don’t deserve to have that in their waterways,” said Hyde Creek Watershed Society secretary Jean Peachman. “It’s just a sad story.”

Any substance entering storm sewer systems ends up unfiltered in waterways. Even chemicals from soap used to wash a car can cause contamination.

Hyde Creek spill
The city of Port Coquitlam is looking at penalizing a homeowner and contractor after paint was found contaminating Hyde Creek on the weekend. - Scott Ducharme/Fisheries and Oceans Canada