Province announces close to $1M for North Okanagan community's water woes

FILE PHOTO: Al and Cathie Price do their best to keep a sense of humour amidst their ongoing water woes with T-shirts that read 'Hullcar Aquifer H 'poo' Oh!' The provincial government announced funding of close to $1 million today, March 3, 2017 to address the longstanding issue of contaminated drinking water in the Spallumcheen community.

SPALLUMCHEEN - The provincial government announced funding of close to $1 million today to address the longstanding issue of contaminated drinking water in a North Okanagan community.

Spallumcheen residents who get their drinking water from the Hullcar aquifer have been under a water quality advisory since 2014 due to elevated nitrate levels. Those who live in the area have been lobbying the government to do something about the issue, which they believe is caused by local farming practices, for years.

Today, March 3, the province issued a media release saying it will provide $950,000 to “support alternative drinking water sources, fund treatment for domestic well users and support sustainable, environmentally appropriate farming in the Hullcar Valley.”

Some Splatsin First Nation band members get their water from the aquifer and in a written statement Chief Kukpi7 Wayne Christian acknowledges the province’s investment. He says safe, clean drinking water is a basic human right.

“We are cautiously optimistic as we need to see results from these investments in providing clean safe drinking water to the residents of the Hullcar Valley,” Christian says.

The province will work with the Township of Spallumcheen, Splatsin, Steele Springs Water District, Interior Health and First Nations Health Authority around the mechanics and timelines for bringing the alternative drinking water sources online, according to the provincial funding announcement.

A portion of the funding will also be used to develop and implement nutrient management plans for farms located over the Hullcar Aquifer. This investment will include an action plan for agricultural operators.

Greg Kyllo, Shuswap MLA, says the funding will alleviate stress for those living under the advisory.

“We will also continue with the important work being done by our inter-ministry working group to better understand the various nitrate sources and take any necessary actions to make sure the community has safe drinking water while providing supports for local agriculture,” Kyllo says.

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