March 25, 2004

Oil Enters Byrne Creek

My wife and I were down at the sediment pond above the Byrne Creek spawning habitat late this morning not long after it started to rain. At around 10:40 we noticed an oily substance exiting the bottom end of the Southridge culvert that formed small oily swirls as it hit the side of the concrete above the gate.

As we stood there, the rain picked up and the flow began increasing until there was a constantly replenished oily area on the surface about a foot wide by four or five feet long along the concrete that oozed over the gate and on down into the sediment pond. While we've been having problems with an oily substance entering the system for months, the flow was the worst we'd seen.

We called it in to Burnaby's Environmental Services Division, and began making our way upstream to track it. I got a call on my cell from a city engineer around 11:00 who was already at the sediment pond and who confirmed that an oily substance was still accumulating.

Yumi and I noticed tiny amounts of oil entering storm drains up on Southridge Drive. It was wash off the road, and wasn't enough to be causing the large accumulation in the sediment pond.

There were bubbles in the creek all the way up the ravine, and in Griffiths Pond. We checked the usual suspect -- the right bank storm pipe below Griffiths Ave., and it while its discharge was noticeably dirtier than the creek pipe, both were bubbly.

There were some bubbles in Susan's Pond on 18th Ave. About that time we got another call from the engineer who said that even further upstream where the creek daylights (first emerges from storm drains) the water was very murky and had some bubbles.

So while the right bank storm pipe under Griffiths Ave. was the dirtiest, there seemed to be bad stuff entering the system all over.

It's hard to believe that such a steady flow of that much oily stuff could be coming off roads alone. Based on today's back-tracking and previous flow monitoring, there must be something trickling into the storm drain system that leads to the pipe under Griffiths Ave.

Kudos to the City of Burnaby for responding so quickly!

Posted by Paul at March 25, 2004 07:50 PM