Gorge Creek Contamination Caused by Septic Tank Dumping

August 2, 2017
Esquimalt News

The contamination of Gorge Creek first reported on July 29, 2017 was apparently caused by the deliberate dumping of septic tank sewage and a disinfecting chemical into a stormwater drain south of Esquimalt Gorge Park. 

Lab results from the creek confirmed the presence of fecal coliform and e-coli, and other evidence also suggests the presence of a disinfecting chemical. According to the Vancouver Island Health Authority (VIHA), there is no risk to human health on Gorge Waterway beaches. Due to the lack of physical indicators of a sewage spill, the previous assumption was that the odour around the creek was caused by an algae bloom. Algae in the creek was likely killed by the disinfecting chemical. The public and their pets should avoid entering Gorge Creek until further notice. 

Municipal staff traced the dumping upstream to the vicinity of Craigflower Road but have not pinpointed where the material was introduced. The Township, working with VIHA, the Capital Regional District, and the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy is continuing its investigation and will be sampling creek water on a regular basis for the next week. VIHA has recommended intensifying beach sampling in the area as a precaution.

Five containment booms remain in place at the creek and, based on information to date, it does not appear that any wildlife was affected by the dumping. 

The Township would like to remind residents that materials dumped into the sanitary or storm water collection systems will eventually find their way to water bodies and these materials will have a negative impact on the water, shoreline and marine wildlife in the area. Please dispose of these materials in a responsible manner.

If residents in the Esquimalt Gorge Park area notice anyone putting a liquid into a manhole or catch basin, they are urged to call the Engineering and Public Works Department at 250-414-7108. Township staff  will continue to review any leads they receive in the hope of finding the responsible party.

Gorge Creek Contamination Timeline

Saturday, July 29
Township staff is made aware of foul odour, discolouration and a reported potential spill into Gorge Creek. Booms were deployed in the creek to help contain the substance and site investigation begins. Emergency Management BC is contacted.

Sunday, July 30
Township crews continue with investigation and collects water samples. Township contacts VIHA. Investigation of municipal infrastructure is conducted. No problems or irregularities are detected

Monday, July 31
Information update is issued to regional media. Crews noted no discolouration around the foot bridge. Some cloudy water was observed upstream.  Dead algae was observed further up the creek towards Craigflower Road. 

Tuesday, August 1
Investigation and monitoring of creek continues.

Wednesday, August 2
Lab results are analyzed by VIHA, the CRD, the Ministry of Environment and Township staff. Information update is issued to regional media. Additional testing to be carried out by VIHA and the Township.

For more information, please contact:
Jeff Miller
Director of Engineering and Public Works
Tel: 250-414-7108