Group takes a stand over Hullcar aquifers

Save Hullcar Aquifer Team says it's advocating for clean drinking water protection

Saving its water source is the rallying cry for a new advocacy group in Spallumcheen.

Save Hullcar Aquifer Team (SHAT) introduced itself via letter to Spallumcheen council, saying it is not a protest group, but rather advocating for clean drinking water protection in the Hullcar Valley.

“Our focus is aquifers #102 and#103 and how they need protection,” wrote Al Price in his three-page letter to council.

Price, a former trustee with the Steele Springs Water District, which is served by the Hullcar valley aquifers, said Hullcar well owners “do not have the option of exploring alternate sources of drinking water.

“The only reasonable solution is permanent protection of the aquifers,” said Price.

The Steele Springs district has been embroiled in a dispute with a Spallumcheen dairy farm they believe is responsible for the high levels of nitrates found in the water source, and with government officials in an effort to make the water potable.

A meeting held 10 months ago brought together representatives from Steele Springs, well users, the B.C. Dairy Association, the farm in question, and representatives of council and the ministries of agriculture, health and environment.

At the end of that meeting, said Price, at least six commitments from sharing water and soil data, to sharing a synopsis of a nutrient management plan to communicating at least once monthly were promised.

Nobody, said Price, has heard anything about the commitments since the meeting in February.

“That is simply not acceptable,” he said. “An incredibly valuable resource for the people of the Hullcar Valley and surrounding area…is being squandered.

“If nothing is done, this water supply will be lost as a source of clean water for our constituents for the rest of our lifetime and beyond.”

SHAT would like to see contamination of the aquifers stopped and the aquifers remediated. This, said Price, would seve the needs of all groups including those who use Okanagan Lake as a source of drinking water.

“I don’t think it’s unreasonable for us to ask our provincial government to put people before before cows,” said Price.

Spallumcheen council has discussed the matter as a committee of the whole meeting.

The group has also received interest and help from the environmental law clinic at the University of Victoria, where students will apply for a hazard prevention order under the drinking water protection act through the ministry of health.