Victoria vows to take a series of immediate steps toward ensuring safe drinking water for approximately 200 Spallumcheen residents.
Residents within the Steele Springs Water District have been under a water-quality advisory since 2014 because of elevated nitrate levels in their local drinking water source, Hullcar aquifer 103.
The region has seen intensive agriculture activity for the past century.
A working group with representation from the ministries of environment, agriculture and forests, lands and natural resource operations, along with Interior Health, will work with the local agrifood industry, water district and First Nations to protect drinking-water quality while supporting a sustainable agriculture sector.
“The interaction between activities on the landbase and groundwater are naturally occurring, and have proven challenging for this particular aquifer,” said environment minister Mary Polak. “Working with the local community, we will take all necessary actions to make sure the residents of Spallumcheen have safe drinking water, while preserving the region’s agriculture economy”.
Initial actions will cover five topics:
- A review of all available water-quality data as well as relevant legislation is already underway;
- The cross-ministry working group will work with the agriculture industry and local producers to promote best farming practices including best practices for nutrient management;
- An enhanced monitoring program will be implemented, along with continued compliance and enforcement actions;
- The province will work with local, external agencies with expertise, including UBC Okanagan and the Okanagan Basin Water Board, toward long- term water-quality solutions;
- Community information meetings will be scheduled within the coming weeks. All information concerning sampling and testing, permitting, compliance and enforcement that can be legally shared will be available and regularly updated on the Ministry of Environment website, http://www.env.gov.bc.ca/epd/regions/okanagan/envman/hullcar-aquifer.html.
See Wednesday’s Morning Star for more on this story…