Wastewater Testing and Environmental Monitoring




Once wastewater has been processed at one of the region’s five treatment plants, it is released into the Fraser River or the ocean. To protect the environment and public health, Metro Vancouver regularly tests and monitors:

  • treated wastewater, to test for substances that could be harmful to aquatic life and to confirm that treatment plant processes are working effectively and meeting regulations
  • areas where treated wastewater is released into the environment
  • recreational waters and beaches (May to September)
  • the overall health of the aquatic environment

Test results are compared to provincial and federal regulations that have been established to protect human health and the environment. Results are available in Environmental Management and Quality Control Annual Reports. The performance of individual wastewater treatment plants is reported monthly.

Beaches and Recreational Waters

Metro Vancouver monitors the water quality of local recreational waters from May to September. Both swimming (bathing) and non-swimming beaches are tested at least once a week to make sure the water is suitable for swimming and other recreational activities.

Water is taken from about 120 sampling sites in 40 locations across the region and analyzed at Metro Vancouver’s Quality Control Laboratory. The tests measure the levels of E. coli bacteria, an indicator of fecal contamination that is used to determine the safety of recreational waters.

Is It Safe to Swim?

Metro Vancouver provides test results of recreational water to regional health authorities and municipalities. Based on this information and Health Canada guidelines, health authorities recommend whether beaches should have notices posted to inform swimmers of a possible risk.

To find out if there is a concern with water quality at a particular beach or swimming area, check out: