The Capital Regional District (CRD) is dealing with the aftermath of the sediment contamination of the Colquitz River through site monitoring and water sampling. The contamination is a result of the CRD Wastewater Treatment construction project taking place on Marigold Road. Contracted crews from Knappett Project Inc. were issued stop work orders two days in a row.
John Knappett, CEO of Knappett Group of Companies, explained that the company was unable to comment on the incident due to a stipulation in their contract with the CRD.
Concerned resident and Colquitz River advocate Dorothy Chambers reported the contamination on the second day when she noticed sediment three kilometres downstream from the construction site. She has met with representatives from the CRD, the B.C. Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Developments and other interested parties to discuss the incident.
Chambers contacted the CRD Wastewater Treatment Project Environmental, First Nations and Regulatory Manager, Kevin Simpson, to let him know that while the crews had left the site, their equipment was still in place. Excavators, the coffer damn that was meant to stop the river flow and a mesh fish trap were among some of the items left behind.
Chambers also asked Simpson who was monitoring the river during the shut down and why the fish net trap had yet to be removed from the water. She also noted that because the trap was still up, fish were getting trapped in the contaminated water and predators were coming in to feed.
Simpson replied explaining that the site is being monitored by a Knappett Qualified Environmental Professional (QEP) and a CRD QEP. He wrote that the sediment control measures had been deemed adequate and that the site will continue to be monitored while the work is completed. Simpson also emphasized that the fish trap had been removed on Sunday morning.
Chambers says she was at the site all day until just before 3 p.m. and didn’t seeanyone come to monitor the site. Wednesday morning, the fish trap was still in place.
On Thursday, Andy Orr, senior manager of communications for the CRD, said the site is stable as no construction is taking place. He emphasized that the site is being monitored by QEP and the water is being sampled daily. He noted that the sample results are consistently within the B.C. Water Quality Guidelines. Orr didn’t comment on the fish trap.
“We are currently reviewing a revised construction plan before any work can recommence,” said Orr. “The Wastewater Treatment Project is committed to environmental protection at all of our sites.”
The project broke ground on Aug. 26 and on Aug. 27, the first stop work order was issued by the on-site QEP as the river had become contaminated with sediment and clay. Once the water cleared, crews resumed their work without altering their methods. The next day, Chambers spotted sediment contamination and immediately reported it. Construction was again shut down by the QEP and hasn’t resumed since.