Provincial government ordered to release withheld Hullcar water documents
By Charlotte Helston
Manure is spread on a field above the aquifer in summer 2015.
Image Credit: Al Price
June 29, 2016 - 10:19 AM
SPALLUMCHEEN - B.C.’s privacy commissioner has ordered the provincial government to immediately release documents relating to high nitrate levels in a North Okanagan water source.
Privacy commissioner Elizabeth Denham launched an investigation after receiving a complaint from the Environmental Law Centre at the University of Victoria, alleging the Ministry of Environment was required to disclose soil tests and other information about nitrate levels in the Hullcar water aquifer in Spallumcheen. The complaint also alleged the ministry did not make every reasonable effort in responding to their initial access request.
“In this case, it is clear that the ongoing risk to clean drinking water in the Hullcar Valley constitutes a matter of public interest,” Denham says. "Residents have been under a water advisory for two years; in order to restore public confidence in the measures undertaken by the ministry, residents should have access to the soil test results and analysis that support those measures.”
Denham has ordered the Ministry of Environment to disclose, without delay, the soil test results and nutrient management plans. She also found the ministry failed to make every
reasonable effort to assist the law centre with its access requests.
"Public bodies need to aid applicants throughout the freedom of information process. Applicants should never have to defend their motives for requesting information," Denham says.
You can read Denham’s full report here.
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