Whistleblower complaint filed to city after fish found dead
Small number of fish killed at research facility at Pine Creek wastewater treatment plant
A whistleblower's complaint has resulted in some changes at one of Calgary's wastewater treatment plants.
In early 2018, a small number of fish were found frozen in shallow water at a research facility on the grounds of the Pine Creek wastewater treatment plant.
The manager of the city's wastewater treatment plants was notified this summer about the whistleblower's complaint.
Mark Crowdis said an investigation determined the complaint was substantiated as a couple of issues were detected.
The first is that changes could be made to reduce the number of fish swimming into the the water research facility, which is located near Calgary's southern boundary.
The second is that the city has legal obligations to report to the provincial environment department when live fish are found, and to the federal environment department when dead fish are located.
Previously, it was unaware of a responsibility to report any fish that are found.
Whistleblower line gives employees options
The research facility has been operating on city land since 2014. The work done there by an outside firm involves testing of river water.
Crowdis said the whistleblower program does give employees the chance to have things investigated if they'd otherwise find it uncomfortable to raise with a supervisor.
"In this case, I think it was brought up previously and may not have been getting the proper attention that it required and they looked at the whistleblower opportunity to pursue that question," said Crowdis.
As a result, he said the city has now ensured that if any fish are found in the research station, it gets reported.
Due to the city self-reporting this incident to the federal government, no fines or other sanctions were levied.
Other steps taken to protect fish
Crowdis said changes have also been made to a screen on the water intake to minimize the number of fish that can get into the research well.
The whistleblower line complaint also led to another change.
"Another one of the recommendations that was provided as a result of this investigation was increasing our communication on site for work that we're doing within the structure or upgrades that we're doing at the facility," said Crowdis.
"That may help interim employees understand how we're doing with certain challenges."
The complaint about the fish is one of 12 substantiated reports to the whistleblower line in 2018 that resulted in recommendations for changes.
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