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UPDATED: Green, foamy sludge coating Nicomekl River in South Surrey an algae bloom

Nutrients washed into river after dry summer months the likely cause, says City of Surrey

A thick, green sludge has been visible on the Nicomekl River in South Surrey for at least a week, has been identified by the City of Surrey as an algae bloom.

An email from the city’s engineering department to the Peace Arch News explains that “algae is a natural part of an aquatic ecosystem; however, when certain conditions are present in a watercourse, algae can grow at a rapid rate to create a ‘bloom.’

“The combination of minimal rainfall and warm air temperatures during Summer 2023 have contributed to low flows and higher water temperatures in the Nicomekl River,” the email continues.

“With the recent rainfall, nutrients and other constituents that have been accumulating on hard surfaces and agricultural fields over the dry summer months were washed into the Nicomekl River, which contributed to the algae bloom.

With rain in the forecast, it is expected that the bloom will dissipate.

Together with the province, the city will take a closer look at the Nicomekl algae bloom at this location and decide what, if anything, needs to be done.

The condition of the river was first brought to the Peace Arch News’ attention by a commuter who drove by on Thursday, Sept. 28.

After taking photos, PAN contacted the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, as the Nicomekl is a salmon-spawning river.

DFO communications spokesperson Leri Davies said the incident has been reported to the appropriate authorities.

Initially, it was unclear what the substance might be.

“This report of foam (possibly detergent entering the Nicomekl) was called in to the DFO Observe Record Report line and, as per protocol, was forwarded to the lead agencies – Emergency Management BC (PEP) and the Environment Canada (NEEC),” Davies said in an email.

“Both are responsible for pollution-related occurrences within their respective jurisdictions.”

READ ALSO: Surrey seeks help in finalizing design for new Nicomekl Riverfront Park



Tricia Weel

About the Author: Tricia Weel

I’m a lifelong writer, and worked as a journalist in community newspapers for more than a decade, from White Rock to Parksville and Qualicum Beach, to Abbotsford and Surrey, from 2001-2012
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