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Several farms likely contributing to Hullcar Aquifer nitrate levels: province

Ian Waldie/Getty Images File

The province is taking steps to control manure use in the Hullcar Valley in Spallumcheen where high levels of nitrate in a local drinking water source, the Hullcar Aquifer, have been an ongoing concern.

Some have been living with a water quality advisory since 2014 because of high levels of nitrates in the aquifer.

The Ministry of Environment said it distributed draft pollution abatement orders to “several” farms last Friday because “there is a reasonable likelihood their operations are contributing to the elevated nitrate levels in Hullcar Aquifer.”

The orders require farms to take different steps depending on their size and the type of agricultural operation they run.

Read More: Residents raise pointed questions at Spallumcheen water meeting

For instance, four bigger farms are being told “detailed plans” are needed.

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According to the ministry the orders require those four farms to have “an action plan showing how the introduction of agricultural waste to the environment will be minimized,” and, “an ongoing monitoring plan for surface water, groundwater and soil samples.”

The full ministry statement on the draft pollution abatement orders can be viewed below.

Earlier this year the University of Victoria’s Environmental Law Centre put pressure on the Interior Health Authority to take action stop one farm from applying liquid manure to a particular field which the law centre believed was contributing to the problem.

While locals have suggested that one large operation is a significant contributor to the nitrate problem, the health authority has argued that it is difficult to tell where the nitrates in the aquifer are coming from because there are many public practices that can contribute to the problem.

Ministry of Environment Statement on Draft Pollution Abatement Orders by Megan

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