Members of the city’s environmental advisory committee and some city councillors would like to receive and provide input into an application for a groundwater licence in Salmon Arm for the purpose of bottling fresh water. (Lachlan Labere - Salmon Arm Observer)

Members of the city’s environmental advisory committee and some city councillors would like to receive and provide input into an application for a groundwater licence in Salmon Arm for the purpose of bottling fresh water. (Lachlan Labere - Salmon Arm Observer)

Concerns raised over water licence application in Salmon Arm for bottling water

Neighbours want to know more, city councillor concerned about commercial use of public aquifers

An application for a groundwater licence in Salmon Arm to be used for bottling fresh water has raised questions and a few eyebrows.

Greg Browne, who owns property at 4180 Auto Rd. SE in the Agricultural Land Reserve, received a letter from the B.C. Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development notifying him of the water licence application for a neighbouring property and asking for input if he has concerns.

Browne said the main issue for him is the amount of water the application requests. The application lists 360 cubic metres or approximately 95,000 US gallons per day from a well, with a total of 131,490 cubic metres – more than 34 million US gallons – per year.

An Olympic-sized swimming pool (more than twice the size of Salmon Arm’s pool) holds 660,430 US gallons, so it would take seven days to fill the pool with the groundwater usage listed. Fifty-three Olympic swimming pools could be filled in one year.

“That gross amount of water doesn’t make any sense to inflict on a neighbourhood that is mainly agriculture,” Browne remarked.

The applicant is listed as a B.C. numbered company and the property is at 3030 40th Street SE.

Responding to a request from the Observer for more information, Mike Weldon, a hydrogeologist with Associated Environmental Consultants Inc., issued a statement by email confirming their client had submitted an application to the ministry for commercial groundwater use for the purpose of bottling fresh water.

“To prepare the application, qualified professionals completed the Technical Assessment, following FLNRORD’s Guidance Documents for new groundwater use,” the email read.

Read more: Shuswap organizations want improvements to water protection

Read more: Nestle Canada selling bottled water business to local family-owned company

Browne’s property includes a 15-tree orchard and grapes, plus a three-acre field leased to John Harper of Forget Me Not Garlic Farm.

“If we drop our water table five feet, our trees will dry,” Browne said.

Mostly, he is concerned that with less water available if the licence is granted, the applicant would be in command of it over other uses, he said.

A retired land surveyor, Browne emphasized he is pro-development, pro-business and doesn’t wish to have issues with a neighbour.

John Harper, who leases property from Browne, sent a letter to the ministry agreeing with Browne that the volume of water to be removed from the aquifer has the potential to lower the groundwater supply. He also called the use of groundwater to provide bottled water in B.C. a wasteful, unnecessary practice that creates issues around the disposal of plastic bottles.

Andy Kemitzis owns Sandy Acres Berry Farm at 2250 40th St. SE. He also received a letter from the ministry. He said he has concerns about the application, but he didn’t respond to the letter.

Prior to subdividing his family’s land for his daughter, which required him to use city water, he estimated that one particular year, with two wells, they were pumping a total of 200,000 gallons per day for a cherry orchard.

He said he has two concerns about the application: one, when he pumped the large amount it was for only a few months of the year and it was before a nearby golf course was built. Two, he wondered if contamination from the landfill is possible.

Read more: Jaden Smith’s foundation bringing clean water to Flint

Read more: Humans unknowingly eat 100,000 particles of plastic per year, says new UVic study

Shelley Geier and her husband have an orchard which she said is slightly over the 500-metre limit from the application property for notification by the ministry.

She said the application, if approved, would have no effect whatsoever on them as they have a licence for surface water. She said their property can sometimes have runoff issues from above, so runoff could potentially affect water quality in the area.

An application for a water licence came up at city council’s April 12 meeting, when Coun. Tim Lavery referred to minutes from the environmental advisory committee.

Committee chair Sylvia Lindgren later said none of the committee members are in favour of a water bottling facility and would like to provide input on the application.

Lavery emphasized that although the provincial government has jurisdiction over water licences, local governments have had concerns over the years about water quality, conservation and using public aquifers for commercial bottling.

He asked if the city would have an opportunity to provide input on the application.

Read more: Water quality concerns drive Shuswap entrepreneur to create Sewllkwe Book

Read more: Ontario proposes to boost water bottler fee by $500 per million litres taken

Kevin Pearson, the city’s director of development services, said “city staff is unaware of any proposal that may be within the city limits.” He said underground water is not within the city’s jurisdiction.

“It’s similar to mining and gravel extraction. Sub-surface rights to water and gravel are not within our jurisdiction and cannot be regulated by zoning.”

Pearson agreed to check with the province about an application. He has not yet reported back to council publicly.

Asked by the Observer about the process if a water licence were approved for a bottling facility at 3030 40th St. SE, Pearson said the property is not in the agricultural land reserve and is zoned M2, general industrial. It could potentially require no council involvement. He said a bottling facility could operate on the M2 lot without rezoning. A building permit would be required for a development and off-site servicing upgrades would be required.

Council would not be involved, however, unless an applicant was applying for variances to the requirements.


marthawickett@saobserver.net
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Salmon ArmWater

 

Members of the city’s environmental advisory committee and some members of council would like to receive and provide input into an application for a groundwater licence in Salmon Arm for the purpose of bottling fresh water. (Lachlan Labere-Salmon Arm Observer)

Members of the city’s environmental advisory committee and some members of council would like to receive and provide input into an application for a groundwater licence in Salmon Arm for the purpose of bottling fresh water. (Lachlan Labere-Salmon Arm Observer)

Just Posted

The spectacular Okanagan Rail Trail from Coldstream. (Linda Busch photo)
Get Outdoors! And explore North Okanagan trails

But, remember to uphold good trail etiquette

A Vernon councillor is facing potential legal action from a former city councillor. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
Diversity debate leaves Vernon politician threatened with legal action

Coun. Dalvir Nahal alleged to have defamed a former politician, who is seeking concessions

District of Coldstream municipal offices. (Morning Star file photo)
Coldstream staff recommend cutting outdated, conflicting policies

A staff report also calls for Kal Lak access protections in the next Official Community Plan

Doses of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine are seen being prepared on Wednesday, May 12, 2021, in Decatur, Ga. Hundreds of children, ages 12 to 15, received the Pfizer vaccine at the DeKalb Pediatric Center, just days after it was approved for use within their age group. (AP Photo/Ron Harris)
One death, 60 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

The death is connected to the outbreak at Spring Valley long-term care in Kelowna

The. B.C. Court of Appeal granted a retrial to former Vernon man William Schneider, convicted of second-degree murder in the 2016 death of Japanese exchange student Natsumi Kogawa. The trial is set to begin May 24, 2022. (Vancouver Police Department photo)
Retrial date set for former Vernon man’s murder conviction

William Schneider’s trial, connected to the death of Natsumi Kogawa, is set for May 2022

Prince Rupert was one of the first B.C. communities targeted for mass vaccination after a steep rise in infections. Grey area marks community-wide vaccine distribution. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C. tracks big drop in COVID-19 infections after vaccination

Prince Rupert, Indigenous communities show improvement

The bodies of Carlo and Erick Fryer were discovered by a local couple walking on a remote forest road in Naramata on May 10. (Submitted)
Kamloops brothers identified as pair found dead near Penticton

The bodies of Carlo and Erick Fryer were discovered by a local couple walking

Municipal governments around B.C. have emergency authority to conduct meetings online, use mail voting and spend reserve funds on operation expenses. (Penticton Western News)
Online council meetings, mail-in voting option to be extended in B.C.

Proposed law makes municipal COVID-19 exceptions permanent

A nurse prepares a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine in Kelowna on Tuesday, March 16. (Phil McLachlan/Black Press)
British Columbians aged 20+ can book for vaccine Saturday, those 18+ on Sunday

‘We are also actively working to to incorporate the ages 12 to 17 into our immunization program’

The AstraZeneca-Oxford University vaccine. (AP/Eranga Jayawardena)
2nd person in B.C. diagnosed with rare blood clotting after AstraZeneca vaccine

The man, in his 40s, is currently receiving care at a hospital in the Fraser Health region

Brian Peach rescues ducklings from a storm drain in Smithers May 12. (Lauren L’Orsa video screen shot)
VIDEO: Smithers neighbours rescue ducklings from storm drain

Momma and babies made it safely back to the creek that runs behind Turner Way

Signage for ICBC, the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia, is shown in Victoria, B.C., on February 6, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
$150 refunds issued to eligible customers following ICBC’s switch to ‘enhanced care’

Savings amassed from the insurance policy change will lead to one-time rebates for close to 4 million customers

Police investigate a fatal 2011 shooting in a strip mall across from Central City Shopping Centre, which was deemed a gang hit. The Mayor’s Gang Task Force zeroed in on ways to reduce gang involvement and activity. (File photo)
COVID-19 could be a cause in public nature of B.C. gang violence: expert

Martin Bouchard says the pandemic has changed people’s routines and they aren’t getting out of their homes often, which could play a role in the brazen nature of shootings

Tinder, an online dating application that allows users to anonymously swipe to like or dislike other’s profiles. (Black Press Media files)
B.C. man granted paternity test to see if Tinder match-up led to a ‘beautiful baby’

The plaintiff is seeking contact with the married woman’s infant who he believes is his child

Most Read