Year over year, the reports painted a grim portrait of the Coquitlam River - excess sedimentation and urbanization were said to be destroying the local waterway.
However, a new report illustrates an entirely different scenario, one of vitality and recovery.
Coquitlam council in committee was given the results of the year-long study examining the health of the river on Monday, and virtually every test conducted over that period suggests the river is in a healthy state.
"I was tremendously pleased about the report, especially on behalf of all the people who have done so much work over the past several years - long before I got on council - to make this sort of report happen," said Coun. Terry O'Neill, chair of the Coquitlam River aggregate committee.
The city began testing last August at seven different points along the river, in undeveloped, residential, commercial and industrial areas.
The testing zone ranged from the upper reaches near the BC Hydro dam, down to the mouth of the river where it meets with the Fraser River.
City staff used equipment to measure dissolved oxygen and pH levels in the water, while also examining other factors like temperature, turbidity and fecal coliform and chlorophyll levels. The research also looked for the presence of five types of metal: cadmium, copper, iron, lead and zinc.
After each finding was complete, those areas were then given a colour classification - green, yellow or red - noting areas of concern.
Only one test sample - located at the riverbend site near the PoCo rail yard - came back with a red level rating for copper levels. The report notes the sampling was an anomaly, given that four other samples from the same site yielded positive results.
"If that continues, some sort of investigation will have to be done," O'Neill said. "But nobody knows quite what to do yet because this was so anomalous."
The findings fly in the face of consistent annual reports from the Outdoor Recreation Council of B.C. (ORC), which has frequently listed the Coquitlam River on its Top 10 Most Endangered Rivers in B.C. list since the list's inception in 1993.
"Our goal is to always see a river drop off the list for the right reasons," said Mark Angelo, an ORC advisory board member and chair of the B.C. Rivers Institute. "I think by highlighting the Coquitlam River in recent years, it's kept the spotlight on the river. It's highlighted issues that had to be addressed. I think we recognize too, there has been some progress over the years."
Angelo noted the nomination period for this year's version of the 2013 Most Endangered Rivers List is approaching on March 18, and it's too early to speculate whether the Coquitlam River will once again be on the list.