The water in Bings Creek turned brown on May 10 after an operator from Duncan Paving accidentally dumped ponded rainwater into it. There were no contaminates in the water and no environmental damage to the creek. The water cleared after a couple of hours. (Submitted by Chris Crowther)

Paving company accidentally spills pond water into Cowichan’s Bings Creek

No contaminents, but water turned milky brown

Residents may have noticed the water in Bings Creek turn murky brown for a period of time in the afternoon of May 10.

Despite some fears of chemical contamination in the fish-bearing stream, it turns out that an operator with Duncan Paving released between 500 and 1,000 cubic metres of ponded rainwater into a pit on a treed meadow on a site owned by the company near Bings Creek that accidentally carried into the creek.

This incident was reported to the province Friday evening, and Environment Canada was made aware of the incident to pursue any investigative or enforcement actions if required.


Duncan Paving took steps to contain the flow soon after the incident occurred, and has been working with the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources on the spill.

The volume of water released carried silts, sands and gravel that increased the turbidity of the creek, creating the brown, milky colour that was reported, but contained no contaminates.

A statement from the ministry said officials were satisfied with the company’s initial response to the incident.

“The channel leading to the ponded water was substantially bermed off to prevent any additional discharge,” the statement said.

“The present layout in the pit is satisfactory for safe operations without further risk from ponded water. Ongoing monitoring is in place.”


Duncan Paving’s Ken Wright said the operator who caused the spill intended to contain the pond water in the pit, but it was released faster than intended and got into the creek.

“There were plenty of fish swimming around in the creek once the water cleared,” he said.

“I called the ministry about the spill right away and they were happy with the way we responded to it. It’s ironic that we have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars over the years on equipment designed to protect the environment, and we’ll likely be remembered for this two-hour event.”

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