Fecal bacteria was found in Turtle Creek south of Revelstoke earlier this month by City of Revelstoke employees.
After complaints of sewage smell coming from the area, the City of Revelstoke took water samples, found high levels of fecal coliform and notified the Ministry of Environment of the results Mike Thomas, director of engineering, confirmed.
This is the second reported issue of potential greywater, with odour and appearance of laundry water, in Turtle Creek this year, said David Karn spokesperson from the Ministry of Environment in an email.
At the time ministry staff attended the site and determined that the source of the discharge was Revelstoke Mountain Resort, Karn said.
“A second issue, was reported to the ministry by the City of Revelstoke with sample results indicating that there was sewage present in the discharge,” Karn said.
The ministry is working with the resort to solve the issue and treating the case as an active file.
“Revelstoke Mountain Resort will continue to work with the Ministry of the Environment to conduct more thorough sampling to determine the source and resolve the issue,” said Carly Moran, media relations coordinator for the resort. “In the meantime, an upstream collection and diversion has been put in place to prevent further bacteria input in the creek and eliminate risk downstream.”
Jim Maitre, who lives near the Revelstoke airport, is concerned about how the watershed, including the well water on his property, will be affected by the discharges.
“I’m concerned about ongoing discharge from the resort as well,” he said. “I think a lot of us in the neighbourhood would just like to have some certainty that this is not ongoing.”
Juliana Gola, a health protection officer for the Interior Health Authority said that many of the properties in the Turtle Creek watershed get their water from the city, however there are a number of properties between the city boundary and Turtle Creek, in the Williamson Lake campground area.
Gola said that residents of the area who have shallow wells and are concerned about water quality can get in touch with the Salmon Arm Health Centre to arrange to have their wells tested. The contact information there is 250-833-4106.
The health authority is not the lead investigator in the incident, Gola said, and as such they do not know the impact that the presence of bacteria could have on the aquifer or on Williamson’s Lake, however fecal coliform could contain ecoli which would make people sick if ingested at high enough concentrations.
For the time being Gola recommends people stay away from Turtle Creek and wash their hands if they come into contact with water in the area, just to be on the safe side.