Update 5 pm:
The breached sewage lagoon at a Spallumcheen dairy farm last week has led to an apology from the owner.
John Kampman of Gracemar Farms says it was an accident and they have taken immediate steps to prevent groundwater contamination.
MEDIA STATEMENT: RE: GRACEMAR FARMS MANURE OVERFLOW:
This past Thursday, February 16th, a manure lagoon breach took place on our farm. First and foremost, I would like to personally apologize to the community of Spallumcheen that this took place. We are extremely sorry this event transpired, all the more so in light of concern around contamination issues involving the local aquifer.
We have taken strong and immediate steps to rectify this issue, achieving rapid containment. Intensive clean-up efforts are underway to prevent groundwater contamination. Heavy rainfall and winter snows filled the lagoon more quickly than expected, while the snow hid the actual level in the lagoon and it breached and overflowed.
In terms of the actions we have taken: We have installed a retaining berm to stop any movement of manure and snow runoff water from the property. Friday afternoon and Saturday we hauled and spread manure runoff snow mixture on a well-contained field as an emergency measure. On Sunday and Monday we hauled in 16 large loads of shavings to absorb the final liquid and snow mix. We intend to haul out mix out today (Tuesday) and Wednesday, which will complete cleanup. We will then be storing the mix in empty bunkers until spreading season. Nothing has escaped the farm because of the quick spreading action.
In the aftermath of this event will be reviewing our facilities and protocols to assure there is no repeat of this incident in the future. We thank the community for their patience and understand the heightened level of concern in this region, but again wish to stress our quick action and detailed clean-up efforts, which have significantly limited the potential for any run-off that would affect the local aquifer.
Gracemar Farms Ltd.
The sewage lagoon breach in Spallumcheen was a hot topic at the Township Council meeting Monday night.
Council was informed that 120-160-thousand gallons of effluent spilled out of the lagoon. About two-thirds of it has now been cleaned up.
Mayor Janice Brown says council is pressuring the Ministries of Environment, Agriculture and Health to take action.
“We want a fine after the investigation and if it shows non-compliance as this is their second offense. The are also currently under a pollution abatement order.”
The farmer spread a large amount of the spill on a nearby frozen snowy field.
Brown says that’s against regulations and Spallumcheen wants Interior Health involved ensuring surrounding wells and water are not contaminated now.
“You need to go out there. You’ve got wells all around there. They are not part of our water system. You need to make sure that the people’s wells out there are safe for them to be drinking that water.”
The Inter-ministry Working Group is holding a public meeting March 3rd at Hullcar Hall, questions answered between 2-5 pm with an open public meeting at 7 p.m. that night.