Curiosity is a byproduct of sludge being spread over some Lavington fields.
Coldstream Ranch has started spreading an organic residue on a few of its corn fields. The sludge is waste from fruit processing at Sun-Rype in Kelowna, which is treated at a waste facility.
During winter applications of the sludge, some concerns were brought to the District of Coldstream over the smell and safety.
“I’m suspicious it is more than just apple composte, it’s a class two toxic sludge,” said Coun. Maria Besso.
The material contains nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium and some residual fecal coliforms from the wastewater treatment.
Despite the evidence of fecal coliforms, the ranch has permission from the Ministry of Environment to spread it on fields.
“The biosolids being applied to Coldstream Ranch is the organic residue remaining after treatment of processing water for the production of juice and wine,” said Jody McCall, operations forester/professional agrologist, in a response to Coldstream.
“The material is all organic, contains no pesticides and has beneficial nutrients for the soil.”
Coun. Gyula Kiss suggests the sludge can’t be any more dangerous than what is traditionally spread over crops.
“I would be more worried about the bacteria in the cow manure.”
But Besso still questions the safety of the sludge, especially since a precautionary sign was erected at the ranch over the winter.
“If it were less dangerous than cow manure then they wouldn’t have to put a sign up,” said Besso.
She is also concerned about seepage into Coldstream Creek, which flows into Greater Vernon’s drinking water.
There are three areas the sludge is being applied to: Buchanan, Big B and Keefer fields. The first two are 850 metres from Coldstream Creek, while Keefer is 130 metres away. Residential properties are at least 30 metres away from the fields.
The District of Coldstream is investigating the sludge and whether it presents any health concerns.
“We’re not claiming that anything wrong is being done here, we just want some information,” said Coun. Doug Dirk.
Creek concerns still flowing
One Coldstream politician is calling her colleagues ostriches.
Coun. Maria Besso says concerns about cows tromping through and defecating in Coldstream Creek are not being taken seriously.
“It seems to me like we’re hiding our head in the sand and not dealing with it,” said Besso.
She refers to Coldstream Ranch allowing cows in area creeks, after she heard several complaints from residents following a recent event where cattle stormed the fence.
“Can we not say to someone, ‘please fix your fence?’” Besso asked. “It’s not good for the environment and it’s not good for the cattle either.”
While the trampled fences have since been re-erected, the overall situation is more complicated than that, since senior governments have regulation over what occurs in the creeks.
Mayor Jim Garlick calls the government regulations a backwards situation.
“If he sticks a pump in the creek he gets in trouble from the Ministry of Environment but he can let his cattle walk in the creek,” said Garlick. “It doesn’t make sense.”