Hundreds of trout and stickleback died after a sewage spill at Gloucester Industrial Park

Sewage spill kills fish in West Creek

Hundreds of fish die in upper portion of creek as oxygen depleted after sewer line breaks.

Langley Township is working hard to clean up a “significant” sewage spill into a portion of West Creek, a fish-bearing stream, which occurred last Thursday.

According to Township director of public works Ronald Zwaag, a large sewage main broke in Gloucester at 272 Street, south of 56 Avenue, which sits right beside West Creek.

Ironically, a roadside sign marks this area of West Creek as protected, and there are storm water retention ponds to regulate storm water flow into West Creek. These retention ponds are where the effluent first entered West Creek. The Township found out about it quickly, and crews worked fast to shut down the flow of sewage so they could get at the broken main.

“We worked through the night and had the pipe fixed by the weekend,” said Zwaag. “But the clean up of the creek is complicated and ongoing.”

Both the Ministry of Environment and the Department of Fisheries are aware and in contact with the Township about the spill.

When sewage effluent spews into a waterway, it chokes the oxygen inside the water, killing every living thing that relies on that oxygen.

“The first thing we did was pump oxygen back into the creek,” said Terry Veer, manager of operations.

This particular area of West Creek had local species like trout. However, other areas of West Creek are salmon bearing. The spill area appears to be contained because a beaver dam has landlocked that particular section of waterway.

But the damage is done and now they are conducting tests to see what levels of coliform are left in the water.

“We have been pumping out sewage and replacing it with fresh water, so we are waiting for test results on that,” said Veer.

The mystery is why a 12-year-old pipe would break.

“The pipes should last 75 years,” said Veer.

A piping expert is being brought in by the Township to investigate the pipe to see where the failure is and to determine if this could happen to other sewage lines in Gloucester.

Lifelong County Line resident Cal Caplette is distraught and sick to his stomach about the sewage spill.

The effluent almost immediately killed all the trout and stickleback fish in the beaver pond below the Caplette family’s home. Dead trout floated to the top of the creek Thursday evening and by Friday morning had settled to the bottom.

Hundreds of dead trout and stickleback are visible on the creek bottom, and are slowly but surely being covered by solid particles. The pungent smell of sewage lingers in the water.

Caplette, whose family has lived here since 1949, said he has never seen anything like this before.

“The Township and Ministry of Environment say they are on top of it but I really don’t think there is anything they can do,” said Caplette, who has been in constant contact with the government agencies since Thursday.

“I guess I’ll see,” he added.

The Township has installed an aerator in Caplette’s pond to put oxygen into the water, but it’s too little, too late, for the fish that were there. The pond is dead.

He notes that the Township has pumped the tainted water out of the retention ponds, but rainfall on Friday night flushed more waste down West Creek.

Most of it was trapped in the pond created by a beaver dam on Caplette’s property.

“The irony is they recently trapped the beaver that saved their butts on this spill,” said Caplette.

— with files from Kurt Langmann, Black Press

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Hirdeypal Batth, 24, has been charged with sexual assault and forcible confinement in relation to an incident in August 2020. (VPD handout)
Langley man charged with sex assault in alleged fake-Uber scheme

Investigators believe there could be more victims outside of the Vancouver area

Bowen Byram played three seasons with the Vancouver Giants and will take part in the National Junior Team Selection Camp. (Rob Wilton)
Langley-based Giants player picked for national junior camp

Bowen Byram made quite a name for himself in three seasons with the Vancouver Giants

R.E. Mountain Secondary (Langley School District)
COVID-19 exposure issued for R.E. Mountain Secondary in Langley

Four schools have been removed from the list of exposures

Aldor Acres is open to the public for pumpkin picking and animal visiting. (Ryan Uytdewilligen/Aldergrove Star)
Our View: Caution requires creativity this Halloween in Langley

And remember, no big parties, or you’ll get a trick in the form of a fine!

Submit letters to the editor through our website, via email or in writing.
LETTER: Education is key to creating an equal world

Aldergrove reader ‘resentful’ of response by Christian Heritage Party candidate

Burnaby RCMP responded to a dine-and-dash suspect who fell through a ceiling in March 2020. (RCMP handout)
VIDEO: Suspected dine-and-dasher falls through ceiling of Burnaby restaurant

A woman believed to be dashing on her restaurant bill fell through the kitchen ceiling

A deer was spotted in October 2020 in Prince Rupert, B.C., with a bright pink yoga ball stuck in its antlers. (Kayla Vickers/Chronicles Of Hammy The Deer Official Page)
Hammy 2.0? Prince Rupert deer spotted with bright pink yoga ball stuck in antlers

The BC Conservation Officer Service is aware of the deer roaming around the city

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
Kelowna Mountie hit with 2nd lawsuit in 2 months for alleged assault

Const. Julius Prommer is accused of breaking a woman’s knee during while responding to a noise complaint

B.C. Premier John Horgan and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee arrive for annual Cascadia conference in Vancouver, Oct. 10, 2018. They have agreed to coordinate the permanent switch to daylight saving time. (B.C. government)
B.C. still awaiting U.S. approval to eliminate daylight saving time

Clocks going back one hour Nov. 1 in Washington too

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau shakes hands with US Vice-President Joe Biden on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Friday, December 9, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Patrick Doyle
A Biden presidency could mean good news for Canadian environment policy: observers

Experts and observers say even a U.S. outside the Paris agreement may ultimately end up in the same place

People take a photo together during the opening night of Christmas Lights Across Canada, in Ottawa, on Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2019. The likelihood that most Canadians will enjoy a holly jolly Christmas season of gatherings, caroling and travel is unlikely, say public health experts who encourage those who revel in holiday traditions to accept more sacrifices ahead. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Ho, ho, no: Experts advise preparing for a scaled-back COVID holiday season

Many of the holiday season’s highlights have already been scrapped or are unlikely to take place

Sen. Kim Pate is shown in Toronto in an October 15, 2013, file photo. The parliamentary budget office says a proposed law that would give judges discretion on whether to apply a lesser sentence for murder could save the federal government $8.3 million per year. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Colin Perkel
Judicial discretion for mandatory minimum sentences for murder would save $8.3M: PBO

The result would be fewer people in long-term custody at federal correctional institutions, experts say

Most Read