British Columbia

Source of Gorge Creek water contamination located

Investigators have determined the Gorge Creek contamination in Esquimalt, B.C., was caused by a cross contamination between sewer and storm water pipes.

The contamination was first reported July 29

Esquimalt's engineering department tracked a significant source of the contamination in Gorge Creek to a problem with the sewer and storm water pipes. (Rob Wickson)

Investigators have determined the Gorge Creek contamination in Esquimalt, B.C., was caused by a cross contamination between sewer and storm water pipes. 

The contamination was first reported to the township on July 29, which forced organizers to cancel the sixth annual Gorge Swim Fest in early August. 

After three months of testing, a significant source of the contamination was traced back to wastewater entering storm drainpipes instead of the correct sewer pipes. The township is working with the property owner to repair the connection. 

Test results found E. Coli and a disinfecting chemical in the water, suggesting a septic tank cleaning truck may have been the culprit.

Esquimalt's director of Engineering and Public Works, Jeff Miller, says workers used a motorized camera to examine the city's network of pipes. 

"The contamination source was at the upper end, so we had to basically work our way up from the bottom and eliminate branches as we went along to find this point," said Miller. 

He adds the city is now determining whether or not the home owner will face consequences for the cross connection. 

Storm water collection resumes

Recent testing shows the contamination levels have gone down enough to allow the Township of Esquimalt to collect storm water from the region again.

The township will continue to monitor the water in Gorge Creek for the next several weeks.

Residents are being asked not to toss anything into the storm water system, as it will eventually enter into the surrounding waterways. This can adversely effect local wildlife, shorelines and the water itself. 

Officials say any spills on municipal roads or in waterways should be reported immediately to the Provincial Spill Line.