Hope Kline

Hope Kline

White Rock beach given all-clear

Following a sewage leak Sunday, health officials Wednesday gave White Rock beach the all-clear for swimming.

Health officials have given White Rock beach the all-clear for swimming.

Rob Thompson, the city’s director of engineering and municipal operations confirmed Wednesday afternoon that two consecutive tests of Semiahmoo Bay have shown the water is safe.

The beach was closed Sunday after a blocked sewer main on West Beach overflowed into a storm-water system, dumping an estimated 60,000 gallons of food waste and sewage onto the beach and into the water.

In a verbal report to council Monday night, Thompson explained that the problem occurred at a connection between two manholes – one that connects to the sanitary system and one to the storm system – at Vidal Street and Marine Drive.

That connection – which Thompson said staff was unaware of – was severed Wednesday morning.

Thompson said the blockage buildup – which appeared to involve food waste and grease – occurred sometime within the last three weeks, after the main was last flushed.

Asked by Coun. Doug McLean if Marine Drive restaurants were to blame, Thompson said everyone in that area could have contributed to the problem.

McLean said a large amount of material had to have been put in the system in order to cause a blockage just three weeks after the main was flushed.

“I can’t imagine residents doing that,” he said. “The source of this is likely our businesses along the waterfront.”

Thompson noted that restaurants are required at the licensing phase to have oil and fat separators, but that the city does not do follow-up inspections.

According to Coun. Alan Campbell, “this should’ve been a red light to us a long time ago.”

“I think we should seriously be getting together with restaurants… and make sure they have some sort of oil separator,” he said. “This could’ve happened at 11 p.m. Sunday night, and that could’ve been disastrous, going all night.

“I think this is an eye-opener to all of us.”

Thompson said city staff will be visiting restaurants and following up with a letter regarding the need to use the separators.

Coun. Lynne Sinclair said changes to rules and regulations about separators in restaurants should be explored.

“I think we need a much more thorough discussion of the inspections. This is very serious.”

Regarding the first test Fraser Health conducted Monday, Coun. Grant Meyer said it is “unacceptable” that the health authority wouldn’t come out on Sunday, when the incident occurred.

In response to a question from McLean regarding potential environmental impacts, Thompson said the city hasn’t visited that area yet. However, fisheries south of the border were closed due to concern over the discharge, he noted.

Council asked staff to bring back a written report on the overall situation by Sept. 30, and include a review of the city’s business licence processes to ensure the installation of fat separators is required.

Council also requested staff write a letter to Fraser Health discussing procedures for weekend calls.

Thompson said Wednesday connections between the sanitary sewer and the storm system were installed some 20 years ago, and were originally intended to reduce coliform intrusions into the bay from storm water by dumping it into the sewer system.

“It was intended as a one-way diversion, but it appears (in the latest incident) to have worked as a two-way diversion,” he said.

Most such connecting pipes were closed off some 15 years ago, Thompson said, noting staff were relying on “corporate memory” of past decisions.

He said it is unlikely there are any more unidentified connections, “although I can’t say there are definitely not.”

– with files from Hannah Sutherland

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

Just Posted

Laura Barnes is to feature some of her artwork at Gallery at Central Plaza next month. (Contributed photo)
New artist showcase coming to White Rock gallery

Laura Barnes work, mixing brights and darks, to be displayed in February

White Rock Public Library (File photo)
Surrey, White Rock literacy leaders kick off Family Literacy Week

Literacy events to take place Jan. 24 to 31

Surrey Community Cat Foundation received funding to assist with medical procedures. (File photo)
SurreyCats receives grant to assist with spay/neuter costs

PetSmart Charities of Canada donates $5,000

Beds are set up at the emergency response centre at the North Surrey Recreation Centre. (Contributed file photo)
26 people test positive for COVID-19 at Surrey emergency shelter

Centre located at North Surrey Recreation Centre

Surrey firefighters respond to a townhouse fire Sunday morning. (Shane MacKichan photos)
Firefighters respond to townhouse fire in Surrey

Fire ‘knocked down quickly’: witness

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders sits in on a COVID-19 briefing with Dr. Bonnie Henry, provincial health officer, and Adrian Dix, B.C. minister of health. (Birinder Narang/Twitter)
PHOTOS: Bernie Sanders visits B.C. landmarks through the magic of photo editing

Residents jump on viral trend of photoshopping U.S. senator into images

A woman injects herself with crack cocaine at a supervised consumption site Friday, Jan. 22, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Drug users at greater risk of dying as services scale back in second wave of COVID-19

It pins the blame largely on a lack of supports, a corrupted drug supply

Wet’suwet’en supporters and Coastal GasLink opponents continue to protest outside the B.C. Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Thursday, February 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
‘We’re still in it’: Wet’suwet’en push forward on rights recognition

The 670-km Coastal GasLink pipeline was approved by B.C. and 20 elected First Nations councils on its path

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
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

Jennifer Cochrane, a Public Health Nurse with Prairie Mountain Health in Virden, administers the COVID-19 vaccine to Robert Farquhar with Westman Regional Laboratory, during the first day of immunizations at the Brandon COVID-19 vaccination supersite in Brandon, Man., on Monday, January 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Tim Smith - POOL
Top doctor urges Canadians to keep up with COVID measures, even as vaccines roll out

More than 776,606 vaccines have been administered so far

Dr. Jerome Leis and Dr. Lynfa Stroud are pictured at Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto on Thursday, January 21, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
‘It wasn’t called COVID at the time:’ One year since Canada’s first COVID-19 case

The 56-year-old man was admitted to Toronto’s Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre

An Uber driver’s vehicle is seen after the company launched service, in Vancouver, Friday, Jan. 24, 2020. Several taxi companies have lost a court bid to run Uber and Lyft off the road in British Columbia. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Taxi companies lose court bid to quash Uber, Lyft approvals in British Columbia

Uber said in a statement that the ruling of the justice is clear and speaks for itself

sd
VIDEO: Mission drag racer scores 1st career win, sets world record, makes history in 2020

Justin Bond, founder and owner of JBS Equipment Mission, has break-out year

Most Read