Cobble Hill’s director Mike Wilson wants extensive annual monitoring and surveying of the ground water in the Fisher Road area. (File photo)

More water testing sought in Fisher Road area of Cobble Hill

Cobble Hill director Mike Wilson asks for $75,000 a year

Mike Wilson wants to see more monitoring of the groundwater along Fisher Road.

Wilson, the Cowichan Valley Regional District’s director for Cobble Hill, asked the district at the regional services committee meeting on May 22 to consider spending $75,000 a year for five years for extensive monitoring and analysis of the water from the Cobble Hill aquifer adjacent to Fisher Road that provides ground water to almost 15,000 residences in the area.

The aquifer is a known location of elevated nitrate concentrations in groundwater largely as a result of land-use activities, such as a greenhouse which is now closed, and composting operations that have operated there for years.

RELATED STORY: COBBLE HILL FOES DUMP ON COMPOST EXPANSION

Elevated concentrations of nitrate in drinking water may pose a health risk.

Wilson told the committee that there’s no more important issue for people than the health of their drinking water.

“Why are recommendations for enhanced monitoring of the groundwater (through wells along Fisher Road) not been adopted?” he asked.

“I’m fully cognizant of budget restraints, but that reason is not valid because the referendum (held last fall) means the CVRD will receive $750,000 a year for water protection such as this. What’s the purpose of the new water function if our reservoirs are contaminated and will likely continue to be more so as time goes on?”

RELATED STORY: AFFORDABLE HOUSING, WATER PROTECTION REFERENDUMS BOTH PASS

In the Fisher Road area, nitrate levels above the Canadian drinking water standards were first observed in 2002 by the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change.

As the CVRD has limited jurisdiction and budget to effectively investigate groundwater quality concerns, in 2017, after concerns were raised by local residents, the ministry formed the Cobble Hill Aquifer Interagency Task Group, consisting of officials from several government ministries and Island Health, to take a collaborative approach to evaluate the risk to groundwater users in the Fisher Road area.

The task group commissioned Western Water Associates Ltd. to conduct a study of the groundwater in the area and make recommendations.

Western Water concluded that the nitrate concentrations in the water detected in the Fisher Road area most likely result from past surface activities that have since either ended, like the greenhouse, or have been modified to be more environmentally friendly.

However, Western Water’s contention that the current risk to groundwater users in the Fisher Road area have been determined to be low was questioned by Wilson.

The report recommended further and regular monitoring of the water, with summary reports every two to five years, and staff at the CVRD recommended at the meeting on May 22 that annual sampling and analysis of four CVRD monitoring wells be conducted, at an estimated cost of up to $24,000.

The committee referred the report and recommendations back to staff for further information after Wilson’s statements at the meeting.

RELATED STORY: VANCOUVER ISLAND WATER SYSTEM AT 50-YEAR LOW

CVRD board chairman Ian Morrison said ideas on how to fund Wilson’s request for the $75,000 annual costs in surveys and analysis would have to be explored.

He said he’s not sure Wilson’s suggestions will “pass muster” with some of the other directors who would have to find ways to source those funds.

“I completely appreciate the concerns of the residents who live in that area, but we can’t change what’s already there,” Morrison said.

“Many people are still pointing fingers about how the nitrate levels in the groundwater got so high and I don’t know how productive that is. I’m not saying people should not be passionate about their drinking water, but the solutions to this issue need to be science based. Water contamination is a provincial jurisdiction, with the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resources Operation and Rural Development responsible for licensing operations, and Island Health is responsible for water quality. The CVRD has to ask where the downloading of these responsibilities to local government ends.”



robert.barron@cowichanvalleycitizen.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Caps get back in win column

Cowichan remains unbeaten at home with 5-2 win over Surrey

Candidate corner: Cowichan-Malahat-Langford hopefuls talk environment and climate change

This is part one of a four-part series outlining candidates’ thoughts on key topics

Pumps at Cowichan Lake shut down

Recent rain raised water levels

Cowichan United opens season with draw

Good start to season for Div. 2 women’s soccer team

Review: ‘Mrs. Warren’s Profession’ offers audiences a choice, and a lot to chew on

George Bernard Shaw 19th century morality play still rings true in 2019

‘I shouldn’t have done it,’ Trudeau says of brownface photo

Trudeau says he also wore makeup while performing a version of a Harry Belafonte song

35 of 87 dogs in 2018 Williams Lake seizure were euthanized due to behavioural issues, BCSPCA confirm

The dogs did not respond to the behaviour modification and remained terrified of humans

B.C. ‘tent city’ disputes spark call for local government autonomy

UBCM backs Maple Ridge after province overrules city

B.C. drug dealers arrested after traffic stop near Banff turns into helicopter pursuit

Antonio Nolasco-Padia, 23, and Dina Anthony, 55, both well-known to Chilliwack law enforcement

B.C. MLA calls on province to restrict vaping as first related illness appears in Canada

Todd Stone, Liberal MLA for Kamloops-South Thompson, introduced an anti-vaping bill in April

Chilliwack woman wins right to medically assisted death after three-year court battle

Julia Lamb has been the lead plaintiff in a legal battle to ease restrictions on Canada’s assisted dying laws

B.C. bus crash survivor petitions feds to fix road where classmates died

UVic student’s petition well over halfway to 5k signature goal

Most Read