Environment and Climate Change Strategy

Hullcar review proposes water protection measures

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Environment and Climate Change Strategy

Hullcar review proposes water protection measures

Contacts
Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy
Media Relations
250 953-3834
Contacts
Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy
Media Relations
250 953-3834

Backgrounders

Hullcar Valley aquifer report

The report, titled From Crisis to Solutions: Toward Better Source Water Protection and Nutrient Management in the Hullcar Valley, proposes numerous actions under nine broad categories.

Some examples of the recommendations are:

  • Responding with crisis intervention as needed
    Actions include a targeted and temporary moratorium on liquid manure spreading in areas of concern, including providing a safety buffer in nutrient application (immediate) and  a review of appeals of pollution abatement orders to inform the development of future orders (long term).
  • Robust, independently verified monitoring and reporting
    Actions include testing more wells and improving field investigations (short term) and providing a regular State of the Hullcar Aquifer public report (long term).
  • Update the regulatory framework
    Actions include ensuring First Nations are consulted and offered an opportunity to provide input (short term) and an improved agricultural waste control regulatory regime (long term).
  • Develop better planning
    Actions include developing an Area Based Management Plan (ABMP) under the Environmental Management Act (short term) and supporting the plan with appropriate legislation under local supervision (long term).
  • Incentives for better practices
    Actions include providing incentives for on-farm best practices (short term) and to assess the implications of septic and other sources of nitrates (long term).
  • Deploy innovative technology
    Actions include exploring the feasibility of a biogas facility in the Hullcar Valley (short term), and exploring ownership models that would support new technologies (long term).
  • Increased accountability
    Actions include creating a Hullcar water board that is co-chaired by the First Nation (short term) and to review sustainable governance structures for water utilities in the area (long term).
  • Consider alternative drinking water sources
    Actions include determining if an alternative water source is needed for local residents (short term) and rehabilitating the existing aquifer (long term).
  • Apply lessons learned to other at-risk aquifers
    Actions include support for alternative manure processing (short term) and establish a provincial state-of-the-water report for all drinking water sources (long term).

Learn More:

The report and supporting documents can be found on the ministry’s website: http://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/environment/air-land-water/site-permitting-compliance/hullcar-aquifer

Agricultural waste control regulation intentions paper

The government has released an intentions paper seeking public comment on proposed amendments to the agricultural waste control regulation that:

  • Will apply to all agricultural operations throughout the province, including hobby and commercial operations.
  • Will provide outcome-based requirements to protect the environment and prevent pollution. The proposed requirements:
    • Address the concept of a “temporary moratorium” (as recommended in the Hullcar report) by giving the statutory decision maker the discretion to prohibit land applications in high precipitation areas, including over vulnerable aquifers for a high-risk period.
      Address the concern regarding intensive livestock operations by limiting the amount of nutrients applied to crops, which should leave no excess nutrients to leach into the aquifer.

  • Will include a new requirement to enable a director, on a case-by-case basis and using available evidence, to restrict land applications over vulnerable aquifers for a certain time period or until soil testing and water quality monitoring indicate improvement.
  • Will clarify the scope, intent, and enforceability of regulations. Specifically, high-risk areas and conditions (for instance, vulnerable aquifers like that found in the Hullcar Valley) will be defined.
  • Will contain provisions for the safe transport and storage of agricultural waste products.
  • Will require agricultural operators to follow protective measures, such as minimum setbacks, for activities with potential for emissions, leachate, or contaminated runoff to negatively affect the environment.
  • Will contain requirements for nutrient application (nitrogen and phosphorus) that minimize and eliminate the risk of runoff, leaching, and accumulation.
  • Propose soil nutrient residual levels be used as an environmental risk indicator.
  • Propose soil nutrient threshold levels that would trigger the need for a nutrient management plan to mitigate potential risks.
  • Outline additional criteria for triggering the requirement for a nutrient management plan, these potentially include:
    • Proximity to high-risk locations like vulnerable aquifers or phosphorus sensitive areas,
    • Number of animal units,
    • Size of agricultural land base.
  • Require, as part of nutrient management planning, new provisions for monitoring irrigation on fields over vulnerable aquifers to ensure that excess watering does not lead to leaching of nutrients into the aquifer.
  • Contain new requirements for managing mortalities in livestock and small slaughter operations.
  • Provide for accurate and timely record keeping of nutrient management activities.
  • Provide for corrective measures via advisories, warnings or orders.

The Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy aims to set regulatory requirements that are clear, practical, achievable, and enforceable to encourage the support and compliance of agricultural producers. The ministry anticipates completion of the regulatory review process and changes to the regulation by spring 2018. As part of the consultative process, comments on the intentions paper are welcomed.

Learn More:

The intentions paper can be found at: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/environment/waste-management/industrial-waste/agriculture

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