Update 2 pm:
The province has announced funding for water quality improvements in Spallumcheen’s Hullcar Valley
950-thousand dollars is being provided to find new water sources for the several hundred residents, and to work on ways to prevent the high nitrate levels caused by local farms.
Spallumcheen Mayor Janice Brown says several other water sources will be looked at.
“There is the option of some of the other water districts, there’s the option to dig a new well, a deep well because they are on a shallow aquifer right now,” Brown tells Kiss FM
The province will work with the Township of Spallumcheen, Splatsin, Steele Springs Water District, Interior Health and First Nations Health Authority around the mechanics and timelines for bringing the alternative drinking water sources online.
A portion of the funding will also be used to develop and implement nutrient management plans for farms located over the Hullcar Aquifer, including an action plan for agricultural operators.
“The solution at this point is to help the farmers figure out a way to put less manure onto the field, and to then to look at getting a good drinking water source,” says Mayor Brown.
The funding comes just ahead of a meeting Friday night for government officials and residents to discuss the issue at the Hullcar Hall.
The latest nitrate level readings came out today, and show an all-time high of 15.5 parts per million.
Residents with the Steele Springs Water District drawing water from Hullcar Aquifer 103 have been under a water-quality advisory since 2014 because of elevated nitrate levels in their drinking water source.
Comprehensive testing and analysis done to-date shows a combination of factors are likely affecting the aquifer, with nitrate pollution coming from several sources.
The inter-ministry working group, established last year, will continue to evaluate and manage the sources of nitrates, and work with agricultural operators to identify and implement improved nutrient management practices.
The Ministry of Environment issued Pollution Prevention and Pollution Abatement Orders to several local agricultural operations last year after water-quality results and inspections concluded there are reasonable grounds to believe they are contributing to the high nitrate levels. The orders require agricultural operators to better manage agricultural waste through a variety of best practices and to track the success of these actions.
“By ensuring access to safe drinking water through this funding, we are able to alleviate the stress for those living under a drinking water advisory,” says Shuswap MLA Greg Kyllo.
Mary Polak, Minister of Environment thanks the residents in the Hullcar Valley who she says have been incredibly patient while we’ve worked to find solutions to a very challenging and complex problem.
Splatsin First Nations Chief Wayne Christian says they are cautiously optimistic as we need to see results from these investments in providing clean safe drinking water to the residents of the Hullcar Valley.”
11 am story by Ron Manz
Hullcar Valley residents remain upset over the latest nitrate level readings for their drinking water.
They show the rate at an all-time high of 15.5 parts per million.
Those affected want to know what’s causing it and how it will be corrected when they meet Provincial Environment & Agricultural Ministry officials today.
Spallumcheen Mayor Janice Brown says one solution is to find a new water source for those affected.
“There’s option of some of the other water districts, there’s the option to dig a new well, a deep well, because they are on a shallow aquifer right now, so they could dig a new well. What we are really pushing for right now is to get some funding.”
Brown says the Province needs to take the lead, but she believes finding a new water source for those residents is crucial right now.
“The sooner that we can get them some drinking water the better. What we are hoping to do is get them another drinking water source and then continue to do what we are doing, so that it doesn’t happen again.”
Brown says farming practices have saturated the land with nitrates from spray irrigation of manure.
She adds everyone wants a confirmation of what’s causing the problem and what will be done to correct it.
“The solution at this point is to help the farmer’s figure out a way to put less manure on the fields and then to look at getting a good drinking water source for Steele Springs.”
The Provincial government is expected to announce funding being made available to help pay for a new water source or deeper well very soon.