The locations of test wells used to test the Sicamous landfill’s effects on groundwater quality in the area. (Western Water Associates Ltd image) The locations of test wells used to test the Sicamous landfill’s effects on groundwater quality in the area. (Western Water Associates Ltd image)

Dissolved metals in groundwater near Shuswap landfill exceed standards

Report states levels are less than or similar to other landfills and are stable or decreasing

Groundwater near the landfill in Sicamous shows levels of various substances which exceed provincial standards.

An environmental monitoring report notes more work is needed to get the full picture on the landfill’s effect on the groundwater.

According to the report provided to the Columbia Shuswap Regional District (CSRD) by Western Water Associates Ltd. (WWAL), levels of dissolved cobalt, lithium and manganese in samples taken from monitoring wells all exceeded a water quality standard or guideline. The water’s ph balance also fell outside the guidelines. Monitoring near the landfill has been going on since 2002. The 2018 samples were taken on May 28, Aug. 27 and Nov. 8.

According to the report, the difference in levels of dissolved metals at test wells uphill of the landfill versus downhill indicate the elevated levels are cause by it leaching out of the landfill.

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In the report, WWAL states that in their opinion landfill leachate, liquid which extracts and carries suspended solids as it passes through the landfil, is also affecting sulphate levels by liberating it from soil and then dissolving into groundwater.

The monitoring work is is important because the landfill is near wells and water bodies that people draw drinking water from.

The landfill site is located in the two-mile area, south of Sicamous’ town centre along Highway 97A. The report states the landfill is situated in a gully which acts as a tributary to the larger Sicamous Creek Valley. The creek is approximately 200 metres southeast of the landfill.

Along with testing water from the monitoring wells, the staff doing the monitoring observed vegetation in the area and found no stress or health concerns.

WWAL’s report indicates that overall, the level of landfill-associated substances found in the groundwater testing are lower than at other CSRD landfill sites and are either remaining constant or decreasing over time.

Read More: Plan to expand Salmon Arm landfill continues

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The study states that the actual impact of the landfill on water quality is difficult to assess because they have no background well to compare the samples to. A useful background well would have to follow similar subsurface flow paths as the groundwater affected by the landfill, but not be fed by water which has passed through the landfill. Establishing a background well is listed as a goal for 2019 in the report

WWAL staff identified a possible location for a background well near Sunset Drive beyond the northwest perimeter of the landfill.

The report states that substance concentration which exceed water quality standards are apparent in the off-site test wells and measures to manage substances leaching out of the landfill and into groundwater could be required.


@SalmonArm
jim.elliot@saobserver.net

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