Al Price photo Residents are concerned about a manure lagoon breach on Salmon River Road in Spallumcheen.

Breached manure lagoon generates anxiety

Residents in part of Spallumcheen are questioning the integrity of their water source

Concerns about water quality in Spallumcheen are boiling over again.

Some residents claim a manure lagoon breached at a dairy farm on Salmon River Road Feb. 16, but the owner of the operation denies that.

“The snow on top may have been too high but that’s just a guess. It’s a lined lagoon and it’s in good shape,” said the owner of Grace-Mar Farms, who didn’t provide his name.

The owner insists he’s on top of the situation, and wouldn’t comment on possible impact on water quality, except to say the ground is frozen and there’s been no leaching.

“We are absorbing everything and we’re not letting any runoff to occur.”

Residents are questioning the integrity of their water source.

“Our concerns are multilayered and will come forward as we continue our research,” said Wayne Christian, Splatsin chief.

Residents visited the site as soon as they became aware of the situation.

“One honey wagon was collecting effluent from the breach and hauling it around to the other side of the lagoon and dumping it out so the other honey wagon could pump it up into its tank and then spread it out on top of the snow,” said Shelley Baumbrough, a farmer in the area.

Conservation officers have also been present to monitor the breach.

“The conservation officer has promised me that an assessment will be done to determine how many and which wells nearly need to be tested,” said Baumbrough.

Members of the Save Hullcar Aquifer Team are accusing the Ministry of Environment of knowing about an incident at the farm for two days before residents became aware of the issue.

“That us unconscionable, and shows the level of disdain for the people of Spallumcheen, including the Splatsin,” said Al Price, with SHAT.

Price also questions if the ministry had ensured the lagoon met standards.

“All of the people of the Hullcar Valley and Steele Springs are paying the price,” he said.

“What happened Thursday, and the way the ministry responded since then, is unacceptable. They have shown their complete disregard for the health of the people of the Hullcar Valley and Steele Springs, or the environment of the valley.”

The situation on Salmon River Road comes at the same time that residents remain concerned about the possible impact of another dairy operation on the Hullcar aquifer.

“The latest test of Steele Springs water came in at 14.4 parts per million. That is the highest it has ever been. So no matter what the government claims to be doing to make sure we have safe drinking water, they have failed miserably,” said Price.

The Ministry of Environment could be reached for comment.

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