Spallumcheen and Splatsin residents listen to government representatives report on high nitrate levels in the Hullcar aquifer Thursday.

Spallumcheen and Splatsin residents listen to government representatives report on high nitrate levels in the Hullcar aquifer Thursday.

Hullcar frustration boils over

About 75 people attended a meeting Thursday to discuss high nitrates in the aquifer

Frustration was evident as Hullcar residents went head-to-head with government officials over water contamination.

About 75 people jammed into the Hullcar Community Hall Thursday night to hear from representatives from various agencies about the plan to address high nitrates in the aquifer.

“I don’t think you are serious about protecting our water,” said one resident.

“Crap continues to be spread and people can’t sell their homes. This is a real serious issue in our valley.”

Many residents insist the nitrates come from liquid manure being spread at an area farm, but the agencies aren’t willing to identify a specific source or business at this point.

“Is getting sued more important than the drinking water of 300 people,” said Al Price, with the Save Hullcar Aquifer Team.

However, the Interior Health Authority says a clear process must be followed when trying to determine the source of nitrates.

“We want good evidence so if we go through an appeal (from a possible source), we can say this is the information we have,” said Rob Birtles, an environmental health officer.

“We wouldn’t have an inter-agency committee if we weren’t serious about protecting your water.”

Residences in the audience questioned why the government’s response to the nitrates has taken so long.

“You don’t have to drink it, but we do. You’ve had two years,” said a woman.

“We can’t turn on our taps,” added another.

Terms of reference are currently being developed for monitoring.

“Are there are other sources of nitrates? Where are the coming from and where are they going?” said Skye Thomson, with the Ministry of Forests.

However, residents continued to point towards agricultural operations.

“It’s a known source so let’s start there and continue with the investigation,” said a man.

Christa Zacharias-Homer, team lead for the inter-ministry working group tackling the issue, says the goal of the process is to find a balance.

“We need clean drinking water but we also need food to eat,” she said.

Among those who depend on the Hullcar aquifer are Splatsin First Nation members.

“At the end of the day, water is the life blood of all things. We have to come together and do something about it,” said Chief Wayne Christian.

Most of Spallumcheen council was also in attendance Thursday.

“We hope that if we work with all of the ministries, we can get this sorted out. We need to protect our aquifers,” said Coun. Christine Fraser.