Environmental experts have told the City of North Vancouver to pump the pond to remove paint sediment. Crews hope to minimize impacts on fish populations downstream.
The City of North Vancouver is investigating and preparing to pump up to 400,000 liters of water from a local pond after paint spilled into local waterways near Tempe Heights Park over the weekend.
Initial investigations show the paint was poured down a drain on private property, which was then routed to municipal storm sewers, according to the City of North Vancouver.
Staff are still working to find out who threw the paint, why the material was thrown away and what type of paint it was exactly, according to city spokesman Pardeep Purewal.
It’s unclear exactly how much paint was spilled, but the paint turned the water in the Tempe Heights Park pond and other nearby waterways a milky white color over the weekend. .
Spill reported Saturday evening
City staff first received a report of the problem on Saturday night.
Local resident Jason Rivero said he was alarmed to see signs of apparent pollution in the water as he walked with his wife on Sunday.
Rivero said he and his wife were walking in the park when he noticed the water in the pond had a strange hue.
“I was sure it was paint,” he said. “I just didn’t know where it came from.”
Rivero said city work crews were on site and placed absorbent materials to try to contain the pollution and clean it up.
Crews were still on site Monday afternoon.
Depollution in progress
Purewal said on Tuesday that the pond outlet had been closed and crews had collected as much pollution as possible. Most of the paint appears to have accumulated in the pond in Tempe Heights (north of Highway 1) and Greenwood Park (south of the highway), Purewal said. She added that crews hope this will reduce any potential impact on fish populations downstream of Wagg Creek.
City staff have consulted with provincial environmental emergency response personnel, as well as environmental consultants, and have been advised that they will likely have to pump the entire Tempe Heights pond to remove any paint sediment. which settled on the bottom.
The cleaning process should continue for a few days and will include removing any fish or wildlife from the pond, Purewal said.
To date, one dead fish and many live fish have been observed, she added.
Pool to be pumped
An environmental consultant hired by the city will help monitor the water withdrawal, document any wildlife affected and save any native species where possible, she said.
Rivero said he was particularly worried because he has seen similar types of fouling of local waterways before.
He’s taken pictures of strangely colored water before and emailed Environment Canada, but “they sent me somewhere in another bureaucratic office.” Rivero said he was unsure whether his complaint resulted in action, as no one ever responded to him.
Purewal said that depending on the outcome of the investigation, whoever is responsible for the paint spill could face fines and be hit with the cost of the city’s spill response.
Purewal said it’s important for residents to keep in mind that all storm drains eventually flow into fish habitat downstream.
Depositing any material into the drainage system is also a violation of local regulations.
If anyone observes a spill, paint or chemicals being released into a contaminated storm sewer or creek, they should call the City Operations Department at 604-987-7155 or 604-988-2212 (in case emergency after hours). Residents can also call Emergency Management BC at 1-800-663-3456.