Trout Lake and Fecal Coliform Counts

Public reaction over the proposed shrinking of Trout Lake's off leash dog area continues to grow, and the Vision Vancouver Park Board are in spin mode.

This morning on the CBC Early Edition [at the 1:58 mark], Vision Park Board Commissioner Niki Sharma claimed dog contamination was compromising the water quality of Trout Lake and making it unswimmable.

This statement is categorically untrue. While I was on the City of Vancouver's Dog Strategy Task Force (the research and evidence of which has since been "disappeared" by the Vision-led Park Board) we spoke to health inspectors about bacterial source tracking and the VAST majority of it is from avian sources.

In fact, as recently as June 2011, I had communicated directly with Vancouver Coastal Health, who put me in touch with Metro Vancouver's Larry Chow and I asked them specifically about fecal coliform contamination on Vancouver Beaches, and bacterial source tracking. Mr Chow responded that the primary contamination source was avian.

Of course, that's the GVRD, but if we want to hone in on Trout Lake specifically:
4.3 Potential Coliform Causes
"It was initially suspected that the coliform counts were a product of dog feces. The effect of this potential cause is minimized by the perforated drain pipe which extending around the circumference of the lake, minimizing surface runoff and hence coliform counts from dog feces. It is currently suspected that the historically high levels of coliform in Trout Lake are caused by bird feces entering the water primarily from ducks and geese (Harvey 2012)."

Ironically, this quote is courtesy of a report authored by UBC's Christine Cooper, on behalf of the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation, prepared just a year before in the summer of 2012 [download].

Clearly, the Commissioner is either not clear on the facts or using the fear of contaminated water to push a political agenda.

More as it develops, in the meantime, please visit the Dog Lovers of Trout Lake page on Facebook for latest news, petitions and how you can get involved.