September 08, 2004

Foamy, Smelly Flow Hits Byrne Creek

There was a foamy, chemical-smelling dump in Byrne Creek today that had the hallmark of somebody pouring something down a storm drain.

Yumi and I headed out for our creek walk around noon, just as it started to rain. As we reached the bottom of the ravine stairs, the creek was rising, but the water was still nice and clear.

We walked into the spawning/rearing habitat below Southridge Dr., and as I was setting up to take a water temperature reading at the lower end of the Sediment Pond around 12:45, Yumi suddenly shouted that there was foam pouring out of the culvert under Southridge Dr.

It had a fairly clear leading edge, and was as high as about 15cm in places. Yumi shot some photos as I called it in to the city. I reached an environmental services officer who said she was in the upper watershed and would check a few spots and work her way down to us. The foam had a smell sort of like a cross between detergent, toilet bowl cleaner and Lysol.


The foam continued to pour in quite heavily for 10-15 minutes before the flow began dissipating. Yumi went back up the ravine and reported that the creek was still clear, with no odour, so the stuff had to be coming down Southridge.

Yumi took a pH reading at the upper end of the culvert in the ravine, and it was pretty normal, near 7. She came back down to the Sediment Pond, and the pH at the lower end of the culvert was off the scale, but it appeared to be lower than 6 (the bottom end of our paper).

The environmental services officer arrived, and just then the Sediment Pond began overflowing. As the water tumbled down the spillway, it began to foam again, and the odour intensified. The officer said she'd take a water sample.

We didn't see any fish in distress, and watched for awhile as the foam filled the Overflow Pond.

As Yumi and I headed home up the ravine around 1:45, the water was high, chocolate coloured, and somewhat foamy, but there was no odour.

Posted by Paul at September 8, 2004 03:39 PM