"Reason is always a kind of brute force; those who appeal to the head rather than the heart, however pallid and polite, are necessarily men of violence. We speak of 'touching' a man's heart, but we can do nothing to his head but hit it." --G.K. Chesterton

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Celebrate Coquitlam River success

Page from the City's Coquitlam River Water Quality Monitoring Report

Ponderous, doom-and-gloom predictions from the sky-is-falling eco-hysterical crowd are routine fare in the mainstream media, even as increasing scientific evidence shows that we have reason for optimism. I’ve been chronicling many of the good-news reports over the past year on my Facebook page.  And I certainly hope to add another link to this list of good-news stories tomorrow, when our two local newspapers publish. [Yup, here's a link to the Tri-City News' story. And here's a link to the Now's story.]

That’s because the City of Coquitlam has just released a report finding that, contrary to the impression left by the annual ritual of naming the Coquitlam River to the list of the province’s “most endangered rivers,” the river is actually exceedingly healthy.

I personally am gratified with this finding because, as chair of the Coquitlam River Aggregate Committee (which seeks to balance the needs of the important gravel-extraction operations along the river, with those of the environment), I stuck my neck out last spring when Mark Angelo, Rivers Chair of the Outdoor Recreation Council, once again slapped the “endangered” label on the river.

I responded by saying that everything I was hearing at the committee—from groups as diverse as our own environmental experts to the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans—had led me to conclude that the river was not, in fact, endangered. My decision to speak up, for the good work that had been done by the committee and many others, led to no small bit of controversy.

It also led directly to my decision to press the City to conduct its own, unique water-quality tests. After all,  the City has a great many storm-sewer outfalls that pour water directly into the river; it only made sense that we should know what’s coming out of them.

Yesterday, we found out.  The Coquitlam River Water Quality Monitoring Update report declares that “sampling results for the 2012 Coquitlam River water quality monitoring program indicate overall positive watershed health, with the majority of parameters being achieved at all locations during both dry and wet weather conditions.”  Significantly, the few problems that were identified (slightly low dissolved oxygen levels throughout the river and an elevated dissolved-copper level in the Riverbend area) cannot be attributed to the aggregate operators.

Let there be no misunderstanding: this is great news! It shows that the gravel operators are acting responsibly; it shows that committed, focused efforts by government workers, environmentalists, nature lovers and ordinary volunteers can make a difference; and it shows that the Coquitlam River is alive, vibrant and healthy. Truly, this is something to celebrate.

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