Pollution levels steady in Coldstream Creek

Pollution levels in Coldstream Creek remain high and that has one politician demanding action.

Pollution levels in Coldstream Creek remain high and that has one politician demanding action.

A Ministry of Environment report to Coldstream council Monday indicated that phosphorous and e.coli continue to be a concern along the creek, which is a source of water for much of Greater Vernon.

“Conditions along the creek have long been a disaster,” said Coun. Bill Firman.

“In 1999, references were made on how we can  improve it and cows are still wandering down the creek.”

Firman isn’t sure which level of government has authority over livestock but he believes jurisdictional issues are irrelevant when health is involved.

“Coldstream council should pass a bylaw restricting access of cattle to the creek. We may not have the power to do it but we must make the effort.”

In his report, Mike Sokal, an impact assessment biologist with the ministry, stated that there were several times during 2010/11 when nitrate levels exceeded guidelines, as did levels for the e.coli bacteria.

“There is a chronic issue throughout the year,” he said.

A high concentration of e.coli was discovered in the Noble Canyon area in fall 2010.

“There has been cattle in that area. Something really should be done about that,” said Sokal.

Council was informed Monday of a pollution prevention order that has been issued to Coldstream Ranch for being in violation of the agricultural waste control regulation.

“Coldstream Ranch has to develop and implement a comprehensive remedial action and monitoring plan. Any work will be done in the summer and fall,” said Sokal.

However, Sokal is not willing to blame agriculture for all of the creek pollution.

“There are increases in more urban areas. There are multiple sources along the creek,” he said.

“There are influences from cattle, horses, dogs and runoff.”

Dogs become an issue in parks next to Coldstream Creek.

“There is no one big thing. There’s a lot of small fixes and it will take time,” said Sokal.

When asked about sewage from Silver Star Mountain Resort possibly contaminating the creek, Sokasl said, “It’s unlikely with the evidence we have.”

Coun. Maria Besso believes the creek must be a priority.

“I’ve pulled up reports from 1974 that identified human activity for coliform loading,” she said.

The ministry will continue to monitor water quality along Coldstream Creek and Kalamalka Lake, and Sokal says the ministry will work with the District of Coldstream and stakeholders to provide information on supporting the improvement of water quality.