The Ministry of Environment has issued draft pollution abatement orders to several agricultural operations in Spallumcheen’s Hullcar Valley.
Based on recent inspections and water quality information, the ministry says there is a reasonable likelihood the operations are contributing to the elevated nitrate levels in the Hullcar aquifer, which has been under a water quality advisory for two years.
A ministry spokesperson confirmed one of the orders given was to a large dairy farm that residents on the aquifer firmly believe is the “likely source” of the high nitrate levels due to its spraying of liquid manure.
These draft pollution abatement orders, issued under the Environmental Management Act, require agricultural operators to do several things to better manage manure.
Smaller operators are required to establish proper storage of manure, including field storage and appropriate setbacks; develop functioning on-site drainage management to contain any agricultural waste; and establish a buffer area around wellheads, property boundaries and surface water.
The draft orders require poultry operators to report to the ministry how manure is being used and publicly post all material covered under the order at Hullcar Community Hall.
Four larger operators, including the one with the “field of concern,” located above the aquifer, were provided with different draft orders that require more detailed plans including monitoring and an environmental impact assessment.
They must present an action plan showing how the introduction of agricultural waste to the environment will be minimized; an ongoing monitoring plan for surface water, groundwater and soil samples; and an annual report and ongoing updates to the action plan.
Close to 200 residents are part of the Steele Springs Water District who, along with members of the Save Hullcar Aquifer Team, have asked the government to order a complete and permanent moratorium on the application of liquid manure on the “field of concern’s” 210 acres.