Government watchdog sets aside pollution order to North Okanagan farm - InfoNews

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Government watchdog sets aside pollution order to North Okanagan farm

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June 06, 2017 - 11:30 AM

SPALLUMCHEEN - Orders made by the provincial government to a farm in the North Okanagan are not backed up by evidence, according to B.C.’s environmental watchdog.

The Environmental Appeal Board has sided with Spallumcheen farmers George and Kevin Curtis, who appealed a pollution abatement order from the Ministry of Environment in May 2016. The order, which has now been formally set aside by the board, was one of several handed out by the province to help address elevated nitrate levels in the Hullcar Valley.

The order called on the Curtis farm, which runs a cattle feed lot, to meet several requirements, including completing a monitoring program and environmental impact assessment for nitrates.

READ MORE: North Okanagan residents can't stomach liquid manure in their water

In its decision, the board says the Curtis farm deposited a relatively consistent amount of manure and shavings onto the property over the past 25 years, and said there must be other factors causing the fluctuation in nitrate levels.

“The panel expresses no view on what these factors are, other than to note that the opening and closing of the feed lot on the Field of Concern, and the opening of the Jansen Dairy, may be relevant considerations. The panel only concludes that some other source of nitrates (other than from the Curtis Farm) was, and is, causing the increase of nitrate levels in the water at the Intake and nearby wells.”

Local residents have been on a drinking water advisory since March of 2014 and believe the high nitrates came from liquid manure being spread over a 210 acre field owned by HS Jansen and Sons Farm Ltd.

The Ministry of Environment has previously commented that the Jansen Farm complied with a 2014 order which included hiring a qualified professional to conduct regular soil and water sampling and provide annual sampling reports to the ministry. 

The drinking water advisory for more than 150 people remains in effect.

Read past stories about the Hullcar aquifer here. 

To contact a reporter for this story, email Charlotte Helston or call 250-309-5230 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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