Hullcar Aquifer Information
Interior Health Authority - Private Well Testing in Hullcar
- Private Well Sampling Opportunity (PDF) - August 03, 2017
The water quality within the Hullcar aquifer 103 is an emerging environmental issue that the Ministry of Environment is working collaboratively with the Interior Health Authority, Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Forest, Lands and Natural Resources. This cross government team is focused on identifying significant sources of pollutants, assessing a variety of approaches to resolve the water quality issue, as well as conduct monitoring of the activities above the aquifer. The aquifer is a source of drinking water for the Steele Springs Waterworks District (SSWD), a small water system located within the Township of Spallumcheen which serves approximately 150 residents, through 57 connections. Interior Health is also aware of an additional 22 private water wells, which draw water from the Hullcar aquifer and are not connected to the Steele Springs Waterworks system.
- Inter-Ministry Hullcar Aquifer Working Group Action Plan (PDF) - March 11, 2016
- Frequently Asked Questions (PDF) - June 6, 2016
Invitation to Comment - Review of the Hullcar Aquifer Situation
On August 2, 2017, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy George Heyman announced a new review of the Hullcar Aquifer, with the end goal of ensuring agricultural practices are consistent with the provision and protection of clean, safe drinking water.
The review of the Hullcar Aquifer situation will help inform the development of new approaches and inform future decisions around agricultural waste management specifically in the Hullcar Valley as well as have benefits to other areas of British Columbia where there are threats to drinking water from neighbouring agricultural waste management activities.
The Ministry is seeking input from the public and will accept submissions until August 31, 2017. The Ministry will not be responding directly to each submission, and provide our thanks in advance for helping to inform this review.
- Access form to provide comments for the Hullcar Aquifer Review - August 16, 2017
There are two main types of aquifers in B.C.: confined and unconfined. A confined aquifer is one that is overlain by a confining layer. The confining layer, which offers a protective “shield” from contamination from the land surface, is typically composed of clay, silt and/or till. As a result, confined aquifers tend to be less vulnerable to contamination than unconfined aquifers. An unconfined or water table aquifer is one where there is with no overlying confining layer. In general, unconfined aquifers are more vulnerable to impacts from human activities than confined or partially confined aquifers. For more information, see Guide to Using the B.C. Aquifer Classification Maps for the Protection and Management of Ground Water (PDF).
Hullcar aquifer 103 is unconfined and approximately 14 km2 in size (defined by area of groundwater development). Water levels vary from 1.5 to 14 metres below the surface; this depth information is based on data within the BC WELLS Database. The thickness of aquifer 103 varies from three to 45 meters. The aquifer has been classified by the Ministry of Environment as IIA (moderately developed, high vulnerability), due to the moderate level of groundwater development and the high vulnerability to contamination.
Drinking Water Advisory
Drinking water standards are set by the Federal-Provincial-Territorial Committee on Drinking Water and published by Health Canada. These standards come in the form of drinking water guidelines that identify levels of parameters to ensure the water is safe to drink. These guidelines are used by every jurisdiction in Canada and are the basis for establishing drinking water quality requirements for all Canadians. More information can be found on the Health Canada website.
Sampling of the Steele Springs drinking water source has shown increasing nitrate levels from 8.8 mg/L in January 2014 to 13.3 mg/L in February 2016. The Canadian Drinking Water standard for nitrates is 10 mg/L. On July 14, 2014, the Interior Health Authority issued a Water Quality Advisory to all residents of the Township of Spallumcheen that reside within the designated area of the Hullcar Aquifers (102 and 103). The advisory stated:
- pregnant women, babies under 6 months of age, the elderly, and individuals with weakened immune systems, or chronic heart, lung and blood conditions should take precautions and use an alternative source of water (ex. bottled water) at this time. For bottle fed infants, use an alternate source of water to mix infant formula for infants less than 6 months of age.
The drinking water advisory was issued due to the level of Nitrates. Nitrate are widespread in the environment. They are naturally produced by the oxidation of nitrogen by microorganisms in plants, soil and water. However, the most common sources of nitrate substances are human activities, including agricultural activities, wastewater treatment, and discharges from industrial processes and motor vehicles. Most nitrate reduction in the soil occurs through plant uptake and utilization, whereas surplus nitrates readily leach into groundwater. The nitrate ion is negatively charged and does not adsorb to clay minerals or organic matter in soils unless they have a significant anion exchange capacity, which is uncommon in Canada. Generally, it is assumed that nitrate will not adsorb to soil particles and will have a high potential for mobility. (Source: Health Canada Water Quality Guideline for Nitrates-Nitrite)
The health impact of nitrates is methaemoglobinemia. Scientific studies show cases of methaemoglobinemia occurring in bottle-fed infants, which are the vulnerable population for these effects. Recent evidence from animal and human studies suggests that effects on thyroid gland function are also an end-point of concern. Studies have seen an effect in school-age children, but no study has looked at this health effect in infants, who would also be expected to be the most vulnerable population for this health effect. In addition, current science suggests an association between cancer and exposure to nitrates in drinking water when conditions result in nitrosation within the human body. (Source: Health Canada Water Quality Guideline for Nitrates-Nitrite)
The Ministry of Environment has acted to identify and quantify potential sources of nitrates by collecting and reviewing water quality sample data within the Hullcar Valley since 2014. An Inspector’s Order was issued to HS Jansen Dairy and an Information Order to Regehr Feedlot which set operational requirements for both agricultural operators. The ministry is currently leading the inter-ministry response and, is/has actioned each item in the Inter-minstry Hullcar Aquifer Working Group Action Plan.
Key Inter-Ministry Action
- May 16, 2016 - Inter-Agency Working Group met with Brian Upper, Steele Springs Water District and Doug Geller, Senior Hydrogeologist/President, Western Water and Associates Ltd. (WWAL) to review WWAL data and technical information that supported their open letter.
- May 13, 2016 - ENV lead discussions in separate meetings with agricultural operators, Steele Springs Water District, Township of Spallumcheen and Save Hullcar Aquifer Team introducing the concept of developing an area based management plan for Hullcar Valley.
- May 12, 2016 - Pollution Abatement Orders were issued to seven agricultural operators above the Hullcar Aquifer.
- April 14, 2016 - Inter-ministry Hullcar Aquifer Working Group meeting with Hullcar Community (PDF)
- March 21, 2016 - Inter-ministry Hullcar Aquifer Working Group meeting with agriculture industry located above Hullcar aquifer (PDF)
- March 21, 2016 - Inter-ministry Hullcar Aquifer Working Group meeting with representatives from Splatsin First Nation, Township of Spallumcheen Steele Springs Water District (SSWD) and Save Hullcar Aquifer Team (PDF)
- March 11, 2016 - Inter-ministry Hullcar Aquifer Working Group Action Plan (PDF)
- February 16, 2016 - Ministry of Environment becomes the lead agency in the integrated Hullcar Aquifer water quality response
- February 4, 2016 - Ministry of Agriculture reactivates inter-ministry technical working group with membership from Ministry of Environment, Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resources and Interior Health Authority
- December 11, 2015 - Response closed to Freedom of Information request by University of Victoria, Environmental Law Center
- August 31, 2015 - Ministry of Environment approved nutrient application for 6,000 gal/acre to Jansen farmland (PDF)
- July 15, 2015 - Ministry of Environment approved nutrient application for 6,000 gal/acre to Jansen farmland (PDF)
- June 12, 2015 - Ministry of Environment denied nutrient application for 8,000 gal/acre to Jansen farmland (PDF)
- August 27, 2014 - Ministry of Environment approved nutrient application for 12,000 gallons per acre to Jansen farmland (PDF)
- July 14, 2014 - Interior Health Authority Issued a Water Quality Advisory for users of Hullcar aquifer (PDF)
- April 16, 2014 - Ministry of Environment approved nutrient application for 15,000 gallons per acre to Jansen farmland (PDF)
- March 6, 2014 - Ministry of Environment issued a S.112 Inspection Order to H.S. Jansen Dairy (PDF)
- March 6, 2014 - Ministry of Environment issued an Information Order (107156) to Regehr Feedlot
- February 13, 2014 - ENV staff requests assistance from several AGRI staff regarding soil trend analysis provided by Okanagan Fertilizer. As well, requested advice and recommendation regarding types of crops planted.
- February 11-13, 2014 - ENV staff corresponds with IHA staff regarding the Guidelines for Canadian Drinking Water Quality for Nitrates and the health impact for high nitrate levels.
- February 3, 2014 - ENV staff received water sample results from SSWD overflow and provided them to IHA staff, Dr. Upper, co-chair SSWD and Conservation Officer Service.
- February 2, 2014 - ENV staff initiates pre-investigative referral to Conservation Officer Service for H.S. Jansen Dairy.
- January 21, 2014 - ENV staff, responding to a complaint of high nitrates in Steele Springs drinking water overflow, had inspected the area including H.S. Jansen dairy farm.
Reports & Data
- FLNR Memo to ENV-April 2017 Well & SS Water Supply Inspections (PDF, 2.1 MB)
- Integrated Monitoring Study - Phase 1&2 Assessment, Golder Associates (PDF, 24 MB)- February 24, 2017
- MOE Review of the Hullcar Aquifer Water Quality Results (PDF) - May 5, 2016
- FLNR presentation Ambient Groundwater Monitoring: Hullcar Aquifers No. 102 and 103 (PDF) - March 21, 2016
- IHA presentation Hullcar Area Nitrates (PDF) - March 21, 2016
- MOE presentation Surface and Ground Water Quality Review: Hullcar Aquifers (PDF) - March 17, 2016
- FLNR Review - Summary of Ambient Groundwater Monitoring of the Hullcar Aquifers No. 102 and 103 (PDF) - March 4, 2016
- MOE Review of the Hullcar Aquifer Water Quality Results (PDF) - February 15, 2016
- Nitrates in Groundwater - Ministry of Environment Water Stewardship Information Series (PDF) – February 2007
- Report on Groundwater Potential Evaluation for the Hullcar Area, Township of Spallumcheen, BC (Golder Associates) (PDF) - August 1, 2006
- The Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner released their report on the disclosure of information related to water quality in Spallumcheen on June 29, 2016, the report is available in full on the OIPC website. The Minister of Environment responded to that report, and her statement can also be viewed on the Newsroom page.
- Action Plan Update - February 22, 2017 (PDF)
- Action Plan Update - February 6, 2017 (PDF)
- Action Plan Update - January 23, 2017 (PDF)
- Action Plan Update - December 19, 2016 (PDF)
- Action Plan Update - December 5, 2016 (PDF)
- Action Plan Update - November 18, 2016 (PDF)
- Action Plan Update - November 4, 2016 (PDF)
- Action Plan Update - October 21, 2016 (PDF)
- Action Plan Update - October 11, 2016 (PDF)
- Action Plan Update - September 26, 2016 (PDF)
- Action Plan Update - September 10, 2016 (PDF)
- Action Plan Update – August 23, 2016 (PDF)
- Action Plan Update – July 20, 2016 (PDF)
- Action Plan Update - June 27, 2016 (PDF)
- Action Plan Update - June 6, 2016 (PDF)
Nutrient Management Plans
PLEASE NOTE: The following documents regarding Nutrient Management Plans and soil, moisture and manure data are subject to copyright and are being disclosed to the public under section 25 of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, as permitted under section 32.1(1) of the Copyright Act. This disclosure does not constitute a license to exercise the rights of the copyright owner, as set out in the Copyright Act, including the right to reproduce, distribute and publish these documents.
Please note, all of the below links are PDF files unless otherwise specified.
- 2017 Nutrient Management Plan
- 2017 Nutrient Management Plan Appendix 1 – Site Maps
- 2017 Nutrient Management Plan Appendix 2 – 2016 PHNT Soil Data
- 2017 Nutrient Management Plan Appendix 3 – 2016 Pre-sidedress Soil Nitrate-N Test Results
- 2017 Nutrient Management Plan Appendix 4 – Spring 2017 Manure Analyses
- 2017 Nutrient Management Plan Appendix 5 – Calculator Worksheets 1-9
2016 Nutrient Management Plans (NMP) H.S. Jansen and Sons Farm Ltd.
- 2016 Manure Management Plan
- Home Forage NMP Calculator Worksheets 1-9
- Jansen Custom Manure Fields Forage NMP Calculator Worksheets 1-9
- 2016 Farmbook - Jansen
- Yearly Nitrogen Summary
- Map Report Home 2016
- Fall 2015 Soil Tests Report
- Field 103A Soil Sample Locations Map Report
- Field 103B Soil Sample location points Map Report
- Spring 2016 soil Test Report
- Water Nitrate - Test Summary
- Hullcar East Water Nitrate Readings Map Report
- Hullcar West Home Water Nitrate Readings Map Report
- Harolds Well Nitrates Test Map Report
- Well Sampling Data H.S. Jansen late tests
- Well sampling data H.S. Jansen
- Solid Manure Analysis
- Soil Nitrate Graph Fall 2015
2015 Nutrient Management Plans (NMP) H.S. Jansen and Sons Farm Ltd.
June 2015 Nutrient Application
- Field 103 Soil Nitrate Graph
- Field 103 Soil Test Report - June 6, 2015
- Field 103 Soil Test Report - April 9, 2015
July 2015 Nutrient Application
- Revised Manure Proposal
- Soil Analysis 103A
- Soil Analysis 103B
- Soil Test Report - April 9, 2015
- Soil Test Report - June 10, 2015
- Soil Test Report - July 10, 2015
- Soil Nitrate Graph
- Moisture report - 48 hours
- Moisture report - 60 days
- Moisture report - 1 year
- Manure Results
August 2015 Nutrient Application
- August Manure revised proposal 4th cut
- QP Speed Calculation
- Soil Nitrate Graph 2015 Post Manure Application 2nd cut for 3rd cut
- Field 103 Soil Analysis
- Field 103B Soil Analysis
- Soil Nitrate Graph
- Field 103A Soil Test Report
- Soil Moisture Data - July 27
- Moisture Data 1 day - July 27
- Moisture Data 1 day - July 28
- Moisture Data 90 day - July 28
- 2014-2015 Soil Moisture data
- Manure Test Results
2014 Nutrient Management Plans (NMP) H.S. Jansen and Sons Farm Ltd.
Compliance Inspections & Managing Environmental Risk
- Record of Decisions (PDF) - October 26, 2016
- H.S. Jansen Dairy (PDF)
- Huxley Farmland (PDF)
- Haambuckers Dairy (PDF)
- Grace-Mar Farms (PDF)
- Canyon Road Farms (PDF)
- Friesen Poultry (PDF)
- Curtis Feedlot (PDF)
- Ken Regehr (PDF)
- Purple Springs Nursery Inc. (PDF)
- Doug Regehr Farm(PDF)