BC’s Environment Minister has announced a new review of the Hullcar Aquifer in Spallumcheen.
George Heyman says it will examine why nitrate levels are much higher than normal, and what impact agricultural practices have.
Heyman says an independent expert will lead the review, which will be due by the end of September.
There’s concerns the aquifer has been polluted by a nearby dairy farm.
Al Price from the Save Hullcar Aquifer Group is pleased.
“It certainly can’t hurt. We’re very encouraged that Minister Heyman has put such a tight deadline on it, the end of September,”Price tells Kiss FM.
Price says Heyman and several other NDP MLA’s –who are now cabinet ministers — visited the site last spring.
“So they all know our issue extremely well, so we’re hoping for good things now they they are government.”
Spallumcheen Mayor Janice Brown says the township is also pleased with the review.
“Improper disposal of agricultural waste is an issue not only in our community, but elsewhere in B.C. as well,” says Brown. “This review provides an opportunity to find ways for a vibrant agriculture industry and safe drinking water to go hand in hand.”
Calvin Sandborn, legal director with the University of Victoria’s Environmental Law Centre will serve as special advisor to the reviewer.
“Providing the residents of the Hullcar Valley with an innovative, new path forward is a priority for me,” Heyman said. “Residents need to have faith that government is listening and will be taking action to protect water quality and safety in the region while ensuring agricultural interests are protected.”
The minister says the review is expected to provide forward-looking recommendations to help inform best practices for the agricultural sector and improvements to regulations that can be applied province wide.
“The BC Dairy Association, representing farmers across the province, is committed to ensuring economic and environmental sustainability,” says Dave Taylor, BC Dairy Association chairperson. “We will continue to work with provincial and local government to foster sustainable agriculture in the Hullcar region.”
Findings from the review will be posted publicly on the ministry’s website.