Environment minister George Heyman (second from left), then an opposition MLA, joins colleagues Lana Popham and Scott Fraser in listening to concerns about the Hullcar aquifer in 2016 from Save Hullcar Aquifer Team member Al Price (left) and Steele Springs Water District chairperson Brian Upper (right). (morning star file photo)

Environment minister supports Hullcar review

George Heyman holds conference call with Spallumcheen council

B.C.’s new environment minister is making clean drinking water for everyone in the province a top priority.

George Heyman conducted a conference call with Township of Spallumcheen council Wednesday over the township’s concerns with a two-plus year water quality advisory for the Hullcar aquifer, affecting hundreds of township and Splatsin First Nation users.

The advisory has been issued due to high levels of nitrate found in the aquifer, with many residents pointing fingers at a large dairy farm as the culprit.

Heyman’s ministry has ordered a new review of the Hullcar aquifer.

“I toured the area last year and have been in constant contact with township representatives and Splatsin chief and councillors,” said Heyman. “It’s an important issue and it was one of the first things I wanted to do when I took office, to ensure everyone in the province has access to safe drinking water.

“After the review, we will look at the policy implications for Spallumcheen and the rest of the province. We want to do what’s good for everyone.”

The review is being conducted by Oliver Brandes, the co-director of the POLIS Project on Ecological Governance at the University of Victoria’s Centre for Global Studies.

Brandes will also lead a team that will make recommendations to Heyman about best practices for the agricultural sector providing clean drinking water.

The township and members of the Save Hullcar Aquifer Team raised concerns with Heyman over the farm in question twice spraying manure over the summer.

“We have a verbal agreement (with the farm) that there will be no spraying done while the review is being conducted,” said Heyman, whose deputy ministers spent two days meeting with various groups in Spallumcheen, including the Save Hullcar Aquifer Team and members of the Steele Springs Water District.

The terms of reference for the review have been posted to the ministry’s website and the public can provide input until Thursday by going to https://interceptum.com/s/en/HullcarValleyAquifer.

Heyman visited the region in 2016 with then fellow opposition MLAs Lana Popham and Scott Fraser. Popham is now Minister of Agriculture and Fraser is Minister of Indigenous Relations.