This incident is a harsh reminder of the importance of disposing of paint properly and the damage it can do to ecosystems, especially to those already at risk.
Mermaid Creek ran through an ecologically delicate area in Sidney, British Columbia, a town of about 12,000 on Vancouver Island. The area was finally getting the restoration it needed, as in March a significant amount of funds earmarked for stormwater management were diverted for a “Mermaid Creek Salt Marsh Restoration Project.” An article in the Peninsula News Review described the venture as a “two-year restoration project – with a total budget of $500,000 from multiple funding sources – [that] will involve bringing in around 7,000 tonnes of replacement sediment to repair the marsh, as well as strengthening it to help it resist future erosion.”
Then for some strange reason, Mermaid Creek began to turn white. At first no one could pinpoint what it was or where it came from, but an article on CTV News Vancouver reports that through a bit of testing it was determined to be paint, and through a bit of sleuthing it was determined the paint had been poured into a storm drain by someone at a nearby commercial complex.
Damage to ecosystem
This is alarming for several reasons, and the nearby Peninsula Stream Society is monitoring the event for any harm or damage to local wildlife; however, the article, published March 31, continued that as this time the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy was not considering any legal action against the entity that released the paint. It’s not been reported as of yet if other legal entities are taking action or what it might be.
On March 31, the Peninsula Streams Society reported that the paint was likely leftover from an industrial painting project, and a few days later had added that while the town had narrowed the spill to a one block radius, they still weren’t sure exactly where it came from. Unfortunately, the wildlife had already been impacted, what’s especially troubling is that this happened almost immediately after some efforts were begun to shore up the area and make it more ecologically friendly. The Victoria Buzz reports that “over 200 volunteer hours spent planting 600 plants along the creek’s estuary have been lost,” and that the habitats of fish, birds, and meadows have all been impacted.
The town of Sidney reminded residents that it has a system in place for the collection of unwanted paint. “Residents should take care when painting and performing property maintenance to ensure that harmful substances are not entering the town’s storm system, [as] municipal storm drains discharge into the ocean without prior treatment,” said Sidney chief administrative officer Randy Humble in a statement to CTV news.
The Steam Society will continue to monitor and report on the situation.
we're all guilty
We, as painters, are collectively guilty of washing huge, untold quantities of liquid plastic (paint) down the drains of our job sites and into our waterways. It's a massive problem - and opportunity for someone to come up with a solution to.
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