Hullcar water quality dominates Legislature debate again

NDP environment critic and Liberal minister square off

Water quality in Spallumcheen’s Hullcar area was back on Victoria’s agenda Monday.

Environment Minister Mary Polak was challenged again by NDP critic George Heyman over high nitrate levels in the Hullcar aquifers.

“I have asked the minister several times why she will not release this public health information to those directly impacted by nitrate contamination,” said Heyman in the House.

“She says the results are posted, but it turns out these are only the water test results, and just recently posted at that.”

Polak says there is only one item of information that has not been provided and that is the nutrient management plan for a farm.

“It is not our documentation. And so we are pursuing the issue as to whether or not we can provide that information publicly,” she said,

“If we are allowed to, under freedom-of-information and protection-of-privacy rules, we shall.

Heyman discounted Polak’s reasons for not releasing the nutrient management plan.

“The environment minister and her ministry have allowed drinking water in the Hullcar aquifer to be contaminated above Canadian water quality guidelines. My question to the minister is: why is she continuing to allow the health of infants, seniors and others to be placed at risk?” he said.

Polak, though, insisted that there are formal processes for releasing information and monthly testing data has been made available on the web.

“That information goes to Interior Health whenever there is a concern. Interior Health, in turn, notifies the water district,” she said, adding the source of the high nitrates still isn’t known.

“There have been samples taken from eight sites in the Hullcar valley. In all likelihood, we are told from those who have the expertise, there are multiple sites responsible, and this is not uncommon in areas where there has been intensive farming for more than 100 years.”