The Rock Bay Contamination Reduction Project is very complex because it deals with a variety of social, economic and environmental issues in a watershed context. It has recognised many different issues including the following:

Water Quality Urban Runoff
Residential Neighbourhood Business Community
Habitat Water Levels

To return to the Burnside Gorge website please click below:

Water Quality

Fecal coliform counts in Rock Bay are high. Fecal coliforms are bacteria found in water that indicates the presence of feces. This problem is largely due to dilapidated or collapsed sewer lines and cross-connections with the storm drain system and pet feces entering the storm water drainage system.

The City of Victoria has placed a storm water rehabilitation unit into catchment area 626 and replaced and upgraded over 96 catch basins in the Rock Bay Watershed.

Water quality testing by the CRD has identified elevated levels of metals (lead, copper, silver, zinc) and polycyclic-aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in sediments within Rock Bay. These contaminants reach the bay via non-point sources, such as urban runoff, throughout the drainage basin.

Urban Runoff

A large portion of Rock Bays 434-hectare catchment area is covered by impervious surfaces such as asphalt and concrete. As rainwater flows over streets and parking lots it carries oil, antifreeze and residential chemicals such as fertilizer and soap into the storm drains that leads to Rock Bay. Upstream actions have downstream consequences, therefore something as simple as washing your car on the street causes further pollution in the creek.

To educate the public about non-point source pollutants and what can be done to reduce their negative impact on the environment and Rock Bay, the Burnside Gorge Community Association implemented a watershed education program as well as a residential pledge program that you can now take online.

Residential Neighbourhood

Traditionally residents have not thought of themselves as being part of a watershed and therefore cannot perceive the impact individual choices can have on the environment.

Residential neighbourhoods within the Rock Bay watershed includes:

Burnside Gorge Oaklands
Hillside-Quadra Fernwood
Downtown Rockland
North park Jubilee

Click here to see a map of the Rock Bay Watershed

Residents can now take a watershed pledge to learn how some simply can changes can make a big difference!

Business Community

The historical and current predominance of commercial land uses in the watershed has contributed high levels of oils and solvents, and metals such as silver, copper, lead, mercury and zinc into Rock Bay.

It is often difficult to determine sources of contaminants due to the many land uses within the catchment area for Rock Bay. Progress is being made through the work of the Burnside Gorge Community Association and the Rock Bay Restoration Committee. This group has been working with local businesses and partners on implementing best management practices for the following industries:

Best Management Practice Manuals

Auto Recyclers [PDF 565KB]
Auto Repair Shops [PDF 559KB]
Auto Body Shop [PDF 680KB]
Auto Dealer [PDF 572KB]
Auto Detailing [PDF 680KB]
Business Sector [PDF 538KB]
Car Wash [PDF 680KB]
Housing Complex [PDF 681KB]
Institutions [PDF 680KB]
Restaurants [PDF 694KB]
Service Stations [PDF 566KB]


The Rock Bay drainage basin was a stream that has been modified over the years to facilitate storm water removal. This has contributed to poor water quality and habitat loss in Rock Bay. The salt-water marsh that once provided habitat for fish and wildlife has disappeared.

Water Levels

Urbanization in the drainage basin has increased impervious surfaces such as roofs, driveways, parking lots and roads, and has consequently changed the natural hydrological conditions and altered runoff rates.

A large component of the City of Victoria’s storm drain project is stormwater management to resolve storm drain deficiencies and flooding. The City of Victoria is increasing the size of the catch basins in the watershed and has installed two storm water rehabilitation units, which will help in reducing the amount of contaminants entering Rock Bay.