I acknowledge that we are on the traditional and unceded territory of the Tsleil-Waututh, Musqueam and Squamish Nations. This presentation is to provide information on the collaborative effort to update the provincial Water Quality Objectives for Burrard Inlet. I thank the Tsleil-Waututh Nation for bringing me in to the team for this initiative.
CONTEXT Updating the Water Quality Objectives (WQOs) is the first strategy under the first goal identified by Tsleil-Waututh Nation (TWN) in its Burrard Inlet Action Plan. WQOs set limits within which various parameters should remain to enable sensitive uses of the waters within Burrard Inlet. This coincides with the same need identified by the BC Ministry of Environment (MOE) and Metro Vancouver. TWN has obtained resources from Natural Resources Canada to get this project started, and TWN and MOE are contributing capacity for collaborative project leadership. TWN is actively seeking additional resources to see it through to completion.
WHY IS IT A PRIORITY? The 1990 WQOs were provisional and are now 27 years old. They need to better reflect new monitoring data, a more complete list of contaminants of concern, current science on biological thresholds of effects, and TWN’s priorities to re-instate certain uses of Burrard Inlet, such as human consumption of shellfish. This will lay the groundwork for further efforts and coordination to reduce pollution and attain the objectives.
APPROACH This is a major undertaking within a very complex body of water. Our overall approach is to: start from the basis of determining what is needed to protect the most sensitive uses of Burrard Inlet, and prioritize work on the parameters of key importance to those uses, and parameters for which we have the most readily available data We are reviewing and compiling data from pre-existing monitoring activities (to determine the current status and needs) and existing water quality guidelines that are more up to date than the 1990 WQOs.
WORK PLAN There are many overlapping stages in this multi-year process. Process set-up: building our model for working with the various sectors and stakeholders whose participation is crucial. Data and monitoring assessment: compilation and analysis of existing data from the monitoring activities conducted in the inlet to understand the status, trends and parameters of concern Compile existing guidelines: reviewing and compiling recent guidelines from BC and other jurisdictions (e.g. Canada, U.S.) that can be used to update WQOs Fill data gaps: make an effort to fill any gaps identified through the data assessment or by stakeholders Recommend updated WQOs: ultimately, a recommendation will be made to the BC Ministry of Environment Propose monitoring program: proposing a monitoring program is a requirement of the WQOs process, as set by MOE Attainment reporting: once WQOs are updated and approved by the BC MOE, regular monitoring and reporting will be done to see whether those objectives have been met and determine any follow-up needed to bring Burrard Inlet’s water quality to the needed level to enable the identified uses
PROCESS SET UP A major reason for the complexity of Burrard Inlet is the number and diversity of organizations and sectors with an interest in or influence on the inlet.
PROCESS SET UP Many of these organizations also collect water quality information. Their contribution and collaboration in this process is essential to creating a full picture of water quality in Burrard Inlet, and to the attainment of WQOs. One of the first tasks as part of this initiative was to engage them.
ROUNDTABLE We have established a multi-stakeholder roundtable with representatives from each of these sectors.
STRUCTURE MOE and TWN (and their contractors) are on the Coordination team for the multi-stakeholder Roundtable, and the project overall. Because this work concerns a provincial policy, the ultimate decision-maker is the BC Ministry of Environment. A technical working group (TWG) has been formed as a subset of the Roundtable. The TWG will make recommendations to the Roundtable, which will approve and forward recommendations to the BC Ministry of Environment. The terms of reference agreed on by the Roundtable were finalized in March 2017. There have been 6 Roundtable or TWG meetings to date; the next meetings will be this fall. There were about 40 people at the last Roundtable meeting, and there are ~17 TWG members. An information list is also maintained which contains Roundtable and TWG members, as well as other interested parties who are not part of those bodies.
DATA COMPILATION AND ASSESSMENT Water quality data for the purposes of the BC WQOs includes information on various parameters in water, sediment and fish/shellfish tissue. This map shows some of the existing and historical monitoring programs. We are trying to gather all this data and piece it together into a story of water quality in Burrard Inlet Some data are publicly available, others are more difficult to obtain. Some are in spreadsheets, some are PDF reports, others are in hard copy. All are not compatible and comparable, and most monitoring programs haven’t been coordinated with each other. Data assessment methods and outputs are being adapted to these challenges. An official request for data from a wide variety of data holders was made in March 2017, and we are still in the process of gathering it. Many organizations have already shared their data.
(…Back to the approach… Remember why we are doing this = to maintain or protect the uses that are most sensitive to water quality)
PROPOSED WATER USES [draft presented to the TWG, but still subject to discussion by Roundtable] We have begun drafting a proposed update to the designated water uses in Burrard Inlet. This list is in decreasing order of sensitivity. Those uses indicated in blue are newly proposed; they had not been identified as options at the time of the 1990 WQOs. Recreation and cultural practices include activities that involve “primary contact”, i.e. contact with the water. (Agriculture and drinking water are also existing options, but agriculture is not a significant water use in the Burrard Inlet catchment. Drinking water quality and quantity is already addressed by Metro Vancouver’s existing drinking water strategy, and so is not being considered in this WQOs update process.)
PRIORITIZATION It’s not feasible to analyze everything about everything all at once, so we are prioritizing those parameters that are relevant to the most sensitive use (shellfish consumption). This coincides with the data that are the most readily available. Key parameters being considered first include microbiological indicators (bacteria), metals, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs).
NEXT STEPS The results of the first stage of data assessment will be presented to the TWG and Roundtable at meetings this fall. Further data compilation and assessment will continue in a prioritized fashion Existing guidelines for various water quality parameters are currently being compiled and reviewed Summary documents describing each parameter or parameter class are being developed, to help set/update objectives BC MOE has an extensive template for the WQOs technical report and overview, so we will start to pull a draft together
[Ask Roundtable members present to stand]
Burrard Inlet Water Quality Objectives Update
Water Quality Objectives
24 October 2017
Pinnacle Hotel, North Vancouver
Coast Salish Unceded Territories
Presentation to Burrard Inlet Science Symposium
Anu Rao, Project Manager