Township to follow MoE lead in Nathan Creek investigation

No complaints about contamination in Langley section of waterway, located downstream from Abby mushroom farms

H.Q. Mushroom Farm and Delfresh Mushrooms have been fined a combined $1,500 for Waterways infractions at their 58th Avenue facilities.

The Township of Langley is investigating and will follow the lead of the Ministry of Environment after two mushroom farms in Bradner have allegedly been leaking sewage run-off into ‘highly sensitive’ tributaries of the Fraser River, including into Nathan Creek.

“We are trying to get information from the City of Abbotsford and the various ministries. From what we understand the Ministry of Environment has issued an order and done water sampling,” said Kevin Larsen, Township’s manager of water resources and environment.

So far, his department hasn’t received any complaints of contamination from farmers in the Township, where Nathan Creek flows within their property lines. But he said the contamination could still be there, just diluted by the time it gets to the Township portion of Nathan Creek.

Also, the Township has a sediment collection pond at the border at Bradner on Nathan Creek, built to handle any erosion from upstream. They have been working on that pond recently and have heard no reports of concern.

Nathan Creek is a fish sensitive tributary and one of “heightened importance to fisheries,” Larsen said.

The owner of the two Bradner mushroom farms has been fined $1,500 after complaints about pollution in two different area creeks this month, and the Ministry of Environment and Fisheries and Oceans Canada have been called in to investigate, according to the City of Abbotsford.

Earlier this month, the city received a complaint about water conditions in Bradner Creek. Upon inspection, bylaw staff observed a pipe from Delfresh Mushrooms discharging into a ditch that flowed into nearby Bradner Creek south of the property on 58 Street.

That was deemed in violation of the city’s Waterways Protection Bylaw and a $500 fine was issued. The pipe was subsequently repaired, according to the city.

The city was later notified by the Ministry of Environment of another complaint at Beaver Creek near H.Q. Mushroom Farm Ltd., which operates on the opposite side of 58 Street from Delfresh. The same person owns the two farms, according to the city.

At H.Q. Mushrooms, staff found two bylaw infractions — an uncovered and unlined storage for waste materials “was leaching into a water system” leading to Beaver Creek, according to the city. Two $500 fines were issued on April 22.

Photos of the two creeks posted on a local website show a black sludgy substance in the water.

The city has tested the area’s water after corresponding with the Ministry of Environment.

Neither the Ministry of Environment nor Fisheries and Oceans Canada has responded to a request for comment. Black Press has also not been able to contact the farm’s owner.

This isn’t the first time H.Q. Mushroom Farm has fallen afoul of rules protecting waterways. In 2008, the provincial court ordered H.Q. to pay a $10,000 fine for several federal fisheries offences, according to a news release issued by Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

Another company, Avina Fresh Produce, was fined $5,000, and the two companies were ordered to pay $75,000 to the government “for the purpose of promoting the conservation and protection of fish and fish habitat within the Nathan Creek watershed,” according to a news release issued by Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

The release said that Avina Fresh Mushrooms Inc. and H.Q. Mushroom Farm “carried out mushroom farming that caused harm and destruction of fish habitat in an unnamed tributary to Nathan Creek.”

The release said the companies “failed to comply with a condition of the Fisheries Act, to refrain from further depositing harmful substances such as mushroom growing waste and chemicals where these harmful substances may impact waters.”

Both Bradner and Beaver creeks flow into Nathan Creek.

– with files from Tyler Olsen, Black Press