October 15, 2002: Students tackle Sunshine Coast water quality

      October 15, 2002
      Contact: Shelley Kean, Communications liaison, Capilano College

      (NORTH VANCOUVER)--Three students from the Environmental Science program at Capilano College recently completed an in-depth report on the pH level of two key sources of drinking water on the Sunshine Coast.

      Julian Lim, David McKeown and Jocelyn Leney spent nearly 10 months assessing the pH levels of Chapman and Gray creeks, which supply water to local residents. The report was prompted by concerns of some community members that emissions from the mill at Howe Sound Pulp & Paper were impacting the water quality.

      "We actually started the project at the beginning of the year by writing a proposal for a terms of reference," Lim said. "Then we had the time-consuming task of collecting data from the Sunshine Coast Regional District, the Ministry of Water, Land and Air Protection, environmental consultant Tom Watson, and biologist Brian Carson, who lives in the area."

      An external advisory panel comprised of representatives from local and regional governments, regulatory agencies and the educational and scientific community was established to provide guidance during the study. After the three students meet with its members, they determined that the best way to give an overall picture would be to link all the data collected to date in one complete report. The process was completed in October and gives approximately 80 pages of information.

      "I would say it's a good assessment that tries to link different perimeters together and be as scientific as possible," explained Lim, who has a bachelor of Science degree from the University of British Columbia. "I'm proud of it."

      The project was part of a practicum required in the one-year post-graduate program. "We learned a lot about how to work in the environmental field. Consulting with clients, scheduling, being flexible, dealing with unexpected changes, looking for data -- all these things provided us with valuable hands-on experience."

      The students approached the Sunshine Coast project by trying to link the fluctuating water quality to the mill.

      "Because we used data from other people, it was more a matter of predicting patterns and coming up with a definitive answer," Lim said. "We discovered that the mill doesn't really contribute to the change of the waters' pH level. There are just so many other factors to consider that any changes in the water quality could not be traced directly to any one thing. For instance, global environmental factors, the winds, development -- all these things contribute one way or another.

      "However," he added, "the overall water quality in the creeks is good."

      The 29-year-old Port Moody resident is now looking for work in the environmental industry, specifically in the area of water quality. He would like to thank all the people who helped out and in particular all the members of the advisory panel which included: Barry Janyck, mayor of Gibsons; Steve Lee, manager of Infrastructure Services, Sunshine Coast Regional District; Ann Laite, science teacher, Chatelech High School, Sechelt; and Tom Watson, Triton Environmental Consultants.

      "I'd also like to thank our instructor, Graham Seagel, who really gave us a lot of helpful direction."

      The report is now complete and can be found online at: http://www.capilanou.ca/dept/envsc/hssp-final.pdf

      It will be distributed to the Sunshine Coast Regional District, the town of Gibsons, the District of Sechelt, and the libraries in Gibsons, Sechelt, and at Capilano College.

      While Capilano College's main campus is in North Vancouver, it also has regional campuses in Squamish and Sechelt that serve the communities of Howe Sound and the Sunshine Coast. This year marks the 25th anniversary of the Sechelt campus, which opened in 1977. The campus offers a selection of university level courses each semester, along with a wide variety of career/vocational programs, Adult Basic Education courses and Continuing Education courses such as computer training, music and Eldercollege.

      For more information about the Environmental Science program at Capilano College, call 604.983.7562 or visit the Web site at: www.capilanou.ca/dept/envsc/index.html.

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