New rules for B.C. farmers take aim at agricultural waste
The environment ministry says the rules will improve water protection
B.C.'s Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy is announcing new rules for farmers, intended to protect water sources and "provide more clarity for the agricultural sector."
According to the ministry, the rules will protect groundwater with proper manure and nutrient storage, ban direct discharges, allow increased monitoring in high-risk areas, and require record keeping.
For farm owner Al Price who lives in the Hullcar Valley near Armstrong, north of Vernon, the announcement came as welcome news.
"It has been a long time coming," said Price. His small community has been under a water quality advisory for nearly five years.
Price chairs the group, Save Hullcar Aquifer Team, which has been trying to get the government to step in to stop a local farmer from contaminating the drinking water with nitrates.
Like his neighbours, he has to drink water that has passed through an expensive filtration system, or buy bottled water.
"We have a water system softener, a reverse osmosis and nitrate filters, and actually we just had the filters changed today," said Price on Wednesday, adding that his wife is still irritated by the filtered water and has to buy bottles.
'We're still in the same boat here'
He's happy to see the government step up its agricultural waste regulation, but Price said he's still not satisfied.
"When you get into the details of it, you know, it doesn't really sound much different than what we already have," he said. "If there's no concerted effort to have independent monitoring and independent enforcement, then we're still in the same boat here."
Price warns that conservation officers who will be tasked with enforcement are already stretched thin across the province. He would like to see more involvement from the agriculture and health ministries.
The rules will come into effect at the end February, but a government release says "more complicated elements will be gradually phased in over the next 10 years."
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