Water tests show high E. coli levels in creek near Abbotsford mushroom farm

Worries that poor water quality could affect fish and wildlife in Bradner-area creeks.

Water in a small stream leading from Delfresh Mushrooms in Bradner is black

Water tests conducted by Bradner area residents on water downstream from a mushroom farm show E. coli and fecal coliform levels thousands of times worse than guidelines allow.

Drinking water should contain no E. coli, while beaches are closed in B.C. when levels surpass 200 E. coli per 100 mL. But a test conducted April 24 on a tributary of Brough/Bradner Creek near Delfresh Mushroom Plan – which has already been fined $500 by the city – found 100,000 coliforms per 100 mL. Total coliform levels, including fecal coliform, reached 240,000/100 mL. The sample and test, including two others on Brough/Bradner Creek was conducted by Langley Environmental Partners Society (LEPS), a local non-profit environmental organization, in conjunction with members of the Glen Valley Watersheds Society.

Downstream from the small tributary in Brough/Bradner Creek, E. coli was still plentiful, at 4,600/100mL. The fecal coliform level was 9,000/100 mL.

The results are not official, and the Ministry of Environment and federal fisheries ministry have also been investigating. The environment ministry hasn’t released results from tests on the water.

Lisa Dreves, the stewardship co-ordinator at LEPS, said fish are known to live in the creek and the coliform levels detected in the water could have a significant impact on wildlife and anything else that comes in contact with it.

Beyond being potentially harmful to drink, including for livestock and wildlife downstream, Dreves said the coliform counts could jeopardize the habitat of organisms and animals that live in the water.

“It means there’s a lot of nutrients getting into the stream and it could lead to algae blooms, which can then lead to a collapse of oxygen in the system, especially at night,” she said. “If we lose the oxygen then we could lose the bugs, we could lose the fish, we could lose any tadpoles … anything that’s relying on the water and the dissolved oxygen in the water.”

In order to see how the creek was affected by the run-off from the farm, LEPS also tested a section of Brough/Bradner above the tributary affected by the mushroom site. E.coli results there were significantly lower, at 500/200 mL, but still exceeding many water guidelines.

“500 is still too high,” she said. “The water quality in Brough Creek was already being affected by something else that’s upstream, probably due to fecal matter getting into the system.”

The City of Abbotsford fined Delfresh in early April after the first complaint surfaced about dirty water being discharged into a tributary flowing into the creek. Two weeks later, the city fined H.Q. Mushroom Farm, which is owned by the same person and located on the opposite side of 58th Avenue.

The owner, Huu Quach, told The News two weeks ago that the issue at Delfresh was fixed the next day and only a “very, very small amount” of effluent entered the creek. He said he was working with “environmental people” to assess how to repair the damage.