Surfers ride a wave at Jordan River beach. CRD will conduct testing following reports a closed mine may have contaminated the popular beach. Photo by Lee-Ann Ruttan

Surfing area to be tested for pollution

CRD will conduct testing following reports a closed mine may have contaminated the popular beach

The Capital Regional District will monitor Jordan River’s coastal waters after metal contaminants were recently detected in the water.

The water tests, which were taken by the CRD from the water located above the bridge, found levels of copper, though not enough to show a toxic hazard to humans, said Juan de Fuca Director Mike Hicks.

“If there’s a problem, we’ll tell you about it,” Hicks said, adding that the CRD is not aware of any problem in the ocean.

The CRD operates the Jordan River Regional Park, and is responsible for its upkeep and safety within its boundaries. The spot is frequented by campers and surfers alike throughout the year.

“We’ll do the testing to make sure it’s safe for our customers, and we’re quite confident that it is,” Hicks said.

Samples of the water in and around the coastal regions of Jordan River were done as part of CRD’s storm water quality program, which monitors storm water discharge points along the CRD shoreline.

The monitoring process takes place every five years, said Dale Green, supervisor of the CRD’s integrated watershed management program.

“Through our storm water quality program, we have a sampling point that’s just on the banks of the river just upstream from the bridge on the westside,” Green said. “Over the years, we did find some copper at that location, but not at levels that trigger our marine sediment quality guidelines.”

Green noted that the only reason metals exist in the water is due to Jordan River’s past industry, notably copper mining, that led to the contamination. He noted the CRD has found other metals in the water, but copper is the most prevalent.

“We may be doing more sampling, we just have to take stock of all the bits of data that are coming in right now,” he said, adding that his team only sampled eight metals.

“It’s not a comprehensive environmental assessment, we have eight indicator metals that we use to look for sources of contamination, mostly industrial stuff.”

The Jordan River area has a long history with mining after the copper mine was discovered at the turn of the century, leading to mass extraction of minerals such as copper, silver and gold.

At this point, the CRD, along with the Department of Fisheries, Teck Resources (the owner of the long-gone copper mine), the Pacheedaht First Nation and the Ministry of Environment are collaborating as part of a remediation effort to clean up Jordan River watershed.