Petition launched after high E. coli counts found in Middle Shuswap River

Petition opposes pollution

A petition calling for protection of the source of the Middle Shuswap River has garnered over 150 signatures since Thursday evening.

The update comes after BeeSAFE, a North Okanagan group, held a community meeting Thursday evening at the Cherryville Community hall.

BeeSAFE founders Carla Vierke and Huguette Allen say over 150 people showed up to their presentation on “Protecting the Middle Shuswap.” They claim everything that happens in the upper reaches of the Shuswap watershed ends up in the river as it’s a significant drainage area.

Their presentation outlined recent testing done by a lab that shows E. Coli counts of greater than 2,420 in the river. Drinking water counts must be zero and beaches to swimming at counts of 200.

“Although only a few years ago, many people took their drinking water directly from the river, now there is fear that swimming may become unsafe” said Allen.

“There is no mystery as to where the source of that pollution comes from,” said Vierke. “The discharge was from a ditch coming directly from an intensive livestock operation.”

Castanet previously reached out to the Ministry of Environment about the claims, the ministry says it conducts inspections based on public tips and to ensure regulatory compliance.

“We appreciate the concerns raised by Cherryville community members,”said the Ministry in an email prior to the group's meeting. “Environmental protection officers are headed to the community next week to conduct inspections and ensure agricultural activities are adhering to the Code of Practice for Agricultural Environmental Management under the Environmental Management Act.”

BeeSAFE says it’s not opposed to ranching and farming but disagrees with intensive livestock operations due to the amounts of manure they produce.

The groups says over 100 people signed the petition immediately after Thursdays meeting. The online petition has 58 signatures as of 11 a.m. Friday morning.

A full copy of the petition can be found on the BeeSAFE website, it’s calling for “protection of water at source to be the priority that trumps any other interest in all regulations, to remove all intensive livestock operations where excess manure is produced."

Allen said the many agencies involved have “vague complicated mandates” that don’t offer suitable protection to the watershed.

“No one takes action but instead point fingers at each other saying they have no power,” said Allen. “So why do they exist? Let’s get rid of half of them and put clear regulations in place that are enforceable and agencies staffed by people who have the power and courage to enforce them.”

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