Kitchener-Waterloo·Photos

Source of Grand River spill still unknown, city says

Kitchener city staff continue to search for the source of a petroleum-like substance that was discovered on the Grand River on Friday.

Staff working with Ministry of Environment to trace contaminate through the storm system

Booms have been put in the Grand River to prevent the spilled substance from travelling further downstream. (Melanie Ferrier/CBC)

Kitchener city staff continue to search for the source of a petroleum-like substance that was discovered on the Grand River on Friday. 

We want to make sure we are capturing any contaminate that could be exposed back to the water again should the water rise.- Scott Berry, City of Kitchener

The spill was first identified by someone walking the Walter Bean trail off Centennial Road in Kitchener, close to where water from the city's storm system discharges into the river. 

"It's a bit of a black staining on the rocks and on the shoreline," said Scott Berry, interim associate director of operations, who visited the site on Saturday.

On Friday, he said staff also saw plumes of the substance floating on the surface of the water.

The substance that was floating on the surface of the water has left a "black staining" on the shoreline, according to the City of Kitchener's Scott Berry.

Containment efforts

City staff worked with a contractor on Friday to erect two booms over the water to prevent the spilled substance from travelling further downstream. 

They'll be investigating both banks of the river as well as the water itself, looking for anything floating on the water.- Scott Berry, City of Kitchdener

Absorbent material, which Berry said looks like round, floating socks, were then placed in the water to soak up the substance.

"Right now, we've got socks at a total of 500 metres downstream," he said. "While there isn't a plume there ... we want to make sure we are capturing any contaminate that could be exposed back to the water again should the water rise."

Berry said the contractor plans to travel further down the river, in the direction of Cambridge, on Tuesday to document the condition of the water and shoreline.

"They'll be investigating both banks of the river as well as the water itself, looking for anything floating on the water, as well as any contamination of the banks."

The yellow boom restrains the spilled substance, while the white netted material absorbs any residue on the water surface. (Melanie Ferrier/CBC)

Source of spill unknown

The city continues to work with the Ministry of Environment to determine where the substance is coming from. 

Berry said the contaminate has been traced through the storm water system to a single drain that is coming off a private property.

"Unfortunately, those pipes can travel a fair distance and they're unmapped," he said, and a single drain can serve multiple properties.

"So, we're using cameras in those systems ... and doing door-to-door investigations in the area as well."

Although he'd like to have the source of the spill identified as soon as possible, Berry said it is impossible to say when the investigation will be finished.

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