COQUITLAM, B.C., April 28, 2020 – The recent death of fish in Coquitlam’s Hoy Creek serves as a reminder that dumping paint, oil and other chemicals down the storm drain can be deadly to local aquatic life.
Discovered on Easter Sunday near Hialeah Court and Woodbine Place, the fish kill comes at a time when many residents are tackling projects at home that may include pool and cleaning chemicals, pesticides, paint, solvents, oil and other toxins that require careful disposal.
Storm drains – and anything poured into them – empty directly into local creeks and streams. Using them to dispose of chemicals is not only harmful to fish and other wildlife, but could lead to penalties under the City’s Stream and Drainage System Protection Bylaw and from provincial and federal authorities.
Unknown Contaminants to Blame
City staff have been unable to identify the pollutant that killed up to 30 fish on Easter Sunday.
While this incident appears to have been restricted to a small area, it comes about a year after thousands of fish in Hoy Creek – including half of the coho salmon fry being raised by the Hoy/Scott Watershed Society – were killed by a clear toxin that was never identified.
How to Properly Dispose of Chemicals
Although some take-back programs are not currently available, some locations remain open and residents are asked to continue to be responsible and properly dispose of hazardous materials.
Visit www.coquitlam.ca/wastewizard or www.rcbc.ca to search for safe disposal locations.
Ways to Help at Home
Follow these tips around the home to help protect Coquitlam’s green spaces and network of creeks, streams and rivers:
- Wash cars on the lawn or at a car wash to prevent soapy water from entering the storm drain;
- Do not use pesticides on your lawn or gardens – visit www.coquitlam.ca/pesticides for safe alternatives;
- Fix oil and transmission leaks and recycle all used oil and antifreeze;
- Sweep walkways and driveways – hosing them down washes litter, oil and pollutants into storm drains;
- Never drain hot tub or swimming pool water or chemicals into storm drains – search www.rcbc.ca for disposal options;
- During home renovation and construction projects, keep dirt, paint and wet concrete away from storm drains and streams; and
- Keep pets away from streams – animal waste is polluting, and pets can erode streambanks, cause siltation and disturb fish and wildlife.
Ways to Help in the Community
Yellow fish symbols are painted near storm drains around the community to remind the public that anything that goes down the drains could affect fish and wildlife.
Residents who want to volunteer to paint yellow fish near the storm drains in their neighbourhood can borrow a kit from the City for free. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for information.
Those who want to do more may consider helping the Hoy/Scott Watershed Society, which operates a salmon hatchery on Hoy Creek.
Volunteers assist with daily fish feedings, hatchery operations, tree planting, invasive plant removal, trail cleanups, stream surveys, public education and at public events. Visit www.hoyscottcreeks.org to learn more.
Look for the Watercourse Protection page at www.coquitlam.ca/environment to learn more about how Coquitlam is protecting local creeks, streams and rivers.