Contaminants seeping into Shuswap Lake remains a concern

Environmental groups argue new agriculture regs don’t go far enough, fast enough

Local environmentalists don’t think enough is being done by the province to protect Shuswap Lake from contamination by fertilizer and waste from agricultural sources.

On Feb. 28, 2019 the Agricultural Waste Control Regulation was replaced by the Agricultural Environmental Management Code of Practice, which provides more rigorous requirements for applying fertilizer and wastes to agricultural lands among other changes.

Nutrient management plans, which farmers will have to use to show their application of fertilizer is minimizing risks to air and water quality, do not become required in phosphorus affected areas, such as the Shuswap basin, until July 15, 2024. They are currently only required in areas which test high for nitrates.

“To wait five years is not acceptable,” said Shuswap Environmental Action Society (SEAS) president Jim Cooperman.

Cooperman said there are some parts of the new code which will be beneficial to water quality.

“The new code forbids the spreading of manure on fields with over 50 per cent snow coverage, frozen or flooded fields, or if the manure could enter a stream,” said Cooperman.

The Shuswap Water Action Team (SWAT) spokesperson Ray Nadeau says it’s great the province has come up with new regulations for the discharging of manure and fertilizer. But he notes the province’s map identifying high risk area does not include the Shuswap River, “the area we’re mostly concerned about.”

“The other thing is the time it’s going to take for them to start focusing on phosphorous, cleaning up phosphorous, which is the problem we’re facing, is way too long and we’re hoping to work with them so it won’t take anywhere near that long to do that,” said Nadeau, adding, “Shuswap Lake is like an aquifer for many thousands of people who use it for drinking water.”

Read More: Man fined $3,000 for killing moose out of season

Read More: Sicamous farmer’s A2 milk could help those with trouble digesting dairy

The B.C. Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy, who will be overseeing the implementation of the new code of practice, says their efforts in 2019 will focus on education and outreach to ensure agricultural operations understand the new requirements under the code and how it applies to their operations. They stated many farms will not need to make major changes but others will need to make significant improvements to infrastructure or management practices if they are not protective enough of the environment.

Ministry staff and conservation officers will enforce the new code of practice the same way they do provisions of the Environmental Management Act. Cases where there is serious environmental or human impact, or where it is unlikely the subject will comply any other way, will be investigated by the Conservation Officer’s Service. According to the ministry, penalties can be up to $75,000 depending on the nature of the non-compliance.

Read More: Dead Canada geese found floating in B.C. ditch

Read More: New federal agriculture minister to visit Okanagan

When the new code of practice was being developed in early 2017, SEAS submitted a brief to the B.C. government group tasked with recommending ways to improve regulations for agricultural practices provincewide to safeguard drinking water quality. SEAS is not satisfied with the way the new code addresses the problem of excess phosphorus making its way into the water in the Shuswap basin.

When it is present in water in excessive quantities, phosphorous can encourage algae growth. Along with making the water unsightly, blue-green algal blooms may be toxic when ingested by wildlife, livestock and humans.

On Friday, March 15, Cooperman had an opportunity to express his concerns with B.C. Environment Minister George Heyman, who was in the region to discuss the Hullcar aquifer – a water source in the North Okanagan believed to have been contaminated by the spreading of liquid manure. Cooperman said the minister responded positively and would get back to him.

One thing Cooperman came away from the meeting with is an appreciation of how important it is for the public to work with province and report when they see manure being spread on snow-covered fields. Calls can be made to the RAPP (Report All Poachers and Polluters) at 1-877-952-7277.


@SalmonArm
jim.elliot@saobserver.net

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Fundraising campaign for church shooting victim exceeds goal

A seperate campaign for the man killed in the April 14 shooting is nearing $25,000 raised.

Okanagan-Shuswap Weather: Most long-weekend rain has already fallen

A mix of sun and cloud is expected for the last two days of the the Victoria Day weekend.

Court decision prompts CSRD to throw flood mitigation back at province

Public safety minister maintains Newsome Creek concerns in hands of local government

Update: Mother dead, youth in critical condition after carbon monoxide poisoning at Sandy Point Campground

The woman was found unresponsive insider her tent and the youth was taken via air ambulance to hospital

Weather holds up for Rutland May Days

60th annual May Day midway, market and entertainment saw hundreds of attendees

The Old Guys reunite to play out spring

Salmon Arm Jazz Club hosts June 13 concert at Nexus

Rescue crews still searching for Okanagan kayaker last seen three days ago

71-year-old Zygmunt Janiewicz was reported missing Friday

B.C. VIEWS: Reality of our plastic recycling routine exposed

Turns out dear old China wasn’t doing such a great job

Okanagan tattoo fundraiser draws tons of support

Lineup around the block in Vernon for start of Five Fathoms Tattoo event for Children’s Hospital

Carbon dioxide at highest levels for over 2.5 million years, expert warns of 100 years of disruption

CO2 levels rising rapidly, now higher than at any point in humanity’s history

Crews responding to car crash in West Kelowna

A collision has been reported at the intersection of Carrington Road and Butt Road.

Woodworth purchased Summerland rink, created butcher operation

Giant’s Head Rink had been one of three facilities in Summerland

Get those flowers competition ready

Gardeners will come together June 29, for the 22nd Juried Flower Show

Most Read