After 3 years of neglect by Christy Clark’s government, residents of Spallumcheen, the Hullcar Valley and the Splatsin First Nation suffer from continuing and rising threats to their once-clean drinking water.
The Hullcar Aquifer is affected by high nitrate levels due to years of uncontrolled applications of dairy farm manure to land above the aquifer – applications in excess of what the crops can absorb. Adding to that existing threat is the overflow of a manure pit right next to the Splatsin Nation and above the aquifer on February 16th, 2017.
The Environment Ministry sent a warning order to the farm in April 2016, a warning that stated “there is not sufficient capacity to store the manure over the winter.” The ministry ordered that a corrective action plan be reported within 30 days. Yet the ministry under Mary Polak failed to effectively monitor follow-up action or compliance on their own order, resulting in the breach and a dump of over 120,000 gallons of liquid manure that threatens bacterial contamination as well as further nitrate pollution.
As a result of high pollution levels in their wells, the Splatsin First Nation asked the Ministry of Environment for direct contact if further events with potential of more pollution occurred. Yet over 10 days after the dairy farm spilled more than 120,000 gallons of liquid manure above the Splatsin’s drinking water supply the ministry has made no attempt at direct contact with Splatsin Chief Christian, and this is despite an order last year from the Freedom of Information Commissioner to pro-actively release information in the public interest as a result of previous refusals to share information about Hullcar water pollution.
On February 23rd, 2017, George Heyman, NDP Critic on the Environment, challenged the Minister of Environment on her failure to protect Splatsin First Nation’s drinking water. You can view the exchange in legislature here.