Coliform Count warning in False Creek East Basin… but we paddle anyways on Sunday

Gung Haggis dragon boat team braved the high coliform count in False Creek East Basin and paddled anyways.

Today's dragon boat practice was different.  There was an nervous tension about paddling on the water this weekend.

The beaches are closed when the coliform bacteria count is 200 per 100mls of water.  The coliform bacteria count for False Creek East basin hit 2900 for 100 mls of water.  This is insanely high.  According to the June 30th report, the count for Sunset Beach was 118, Kitsilano Beach 59 and Locarno was 25. 2900 is extreme!  Apparently, the central and western basins of False Creek hit coliform counts of
500 and 300 respectively. 

Last Wednesday evening, we saw people swimming in the water off
the houseboats at Granville Island.  Personally, I wouldn't swim in
False Creek.  The water is pretty stagnant especially in the East Basin.

The Vancouver Coastal Heath Authority posted a warning:


Due to elevated coliform
counts in the East Basin of False Creek, the Medical Health Officer is
advising recreational users of this water body to refrain from doing so
until further notice.  Kayakers, rowers, dragon-boaters and other users
of East False Creek (east of Cambie Bridge) are encouraged to utilize
the Central and West basins of False Creek.   

If users insist
on using the East Basin, they should take extra precautions to prevent
ingestion (swallowing) or inhalation of water droplets, or submersion
into False Creek water.  Should an accidental exposure occur, shower
off with clean water and wash hands thoroughly after leaving the boat
or water.

The sources of the accidental sewage contamination
have been discovered and rectified as of 4:00 p.m. Friday, July 4th 
 We expect to see improving results as early as next week and will lift
the advisory as soon as the coliform counts return to acceptable
levels.  Visit for updates on July 7th.

The Vancouver Sun and other media have been posting stories about the high coliform bacteria count in the East Basin of False Creek.

False Creek coliform count soars

5 Jul 2008
The online source for Vancouver news, business, sports, entertainment,
classified ads, horoscopes, weather, local news and more. – 71k – 

Coliform warning for False Creek

4 Jul 2008 offers unique and exclusive information on news and
entertainment, Full episodes for select priority programs including – 46k –

False Creek sewage leak may take several days to clear up

6 Jul 2008 … Municipal engineers have found the source of contamination that has spiked coliformFalse Creek, but it may be several –

There was a Water Safety notice posted on the Clubhouse + the dock entrance. 
The warning was for recreational activity in the EAST BASIN – East of Cambie Bridge.  West and Central Basin were fine.

Dragon Zone sent out a warning to dragon boat members that “if you do still choose to practice please exercise caution. Avoid
splashing. Wear sunglasses or other protective eyewear to avoid water
coming in contact with your eyes. Wash all exposed skin immediately
after paddling.”

Some people didn't want to do go out on the water… But we all discussed the coliform issue.

We had an ex-Van City engineering dept guy who didn't paddle… but a recently retired GVRD Annacis Island Sewage Plant Manager and a son of retired chief medical officer who did.  We expected these veteran paddlers to know what the numbers really meant. 

We discussed the water situation for 10 minutes.  We recognized that the water situation has had coliform count warnings
in past years, and that this was different because it appeared that 3
sewage pipes were involved.  But we figured that as long as the water stayed out of the boat, out of our eyes and mouths… and we stayed out of the water – we would be fine.

The water did seem cleaner and clearer than when red tide was active, but this is NOT an indicator of coliform account. 

We did a 45 minute session on mental training (eg. imagery, cue words, positive thinking, mental preparation, team cohesion).

We then went for a 70 minute session of paddling to Burrard Bridge and back.

6 paddlers chose not to paddle.
12 paddlers chose to paddle – including 2 first timers, 1 second timer,  1 6th timer.
other paddlers chose to take the Sunday off…

We minimized splashing in the East Basin, and focused on long slow
distance paddling.  Coliform count is expected to diminish early next

We all went for gelato after practice at Mario's Gelato.  I brought out my Wet Wipes from my car, and passed them around for everybody.

Cheers, Todd

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