Proposed Abstract Title

Need for Enforceable and Clear Regulations

Type of Presentation

Oral

Session Title

Cross-Border Local Leadership Exchange I: Water Quality in Border Areas'

Location

2016SSEC

Description

The British Columbia Ministries of Environment and Agriculture are working with the Whatcom County staff to pilot a project for BC agriculture operators to do a manure application risk assessment for specific fields if they would like to spread manure during the winter season. This pilot project is based on a program developed by the Whatcom County in response to concerns about their dairy industry. There have been concerns for many years regarding the water quality issues in the Lower Fraser Valley on both sides of the Washington State and British Columbia (BC) border. Agricultural operations and activities appear to a significant contributing factor to the contamination (nitrates, phosphorus, pathogens) in surface waters and groundwater. Winter spreading is generally not recommended as there is a high risk for runoff from fields into watercourses and leaching into groundwater. The BC Ministries of Environment, Agriculture and Health and the Canadian federal government departments, such as Environment Canada, Fisheries and Oceans Canada have been cooperating and collaborating on these issues for many years, bringing what various resources they have to the issue. However, achieving compliance with requirements of the BC Ministry of Environment (ENV) Agricultural Waste Control Regulation (AWCR) has several challenges, including ambiguous and unspecific wording in the regulation. For example, in the current regulation, the emphasis on the phrase of “not causing pollution”, or prohibiting an activity “if it causes pollution” is problematic because it is not protective of the environment or human health — in actuality, it authorizes discharges up to a pollution threshold, does not consider cumulative impacts, and is proving resource intensive with respect to securing adequate evidence. Other jurisdictions appear to be ahead of BC in addressing these problems. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) and Washington State’s Environmental Agency have expressed concerns regarding international water quality issues (e.g., nitrates in Abbotsford-Sumas aquifer and surface waters migrating south), which need to be addressed. As well, the Agricultural Waste Control Regulation (AWCR) has not had a comprehensive review since it came into force in 1992. For these and other reasons, the AWCR was identified as a priority for review and updating to deal with the adverse impacts to the environment and human health from agricultural operations and activities in a more efficient and effective manner. The main challenge is to find appropriate and innovative ways to protect human health and the environment, provide regulatory certainty and ensure a sustainable and economically robust agricultural industry in BC.

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Need for Enforceable and Clear Regulations

2016SSEC

The British Columbia Ministries of Environment and Agriculture are working with the Whatcom County staff to pilot a project for BC agriculture operators to do a manure application risk assessment for specific fields if they would like to spread manure during the winter season. This pilot project is based on a program developed by the Whatcom County in response to concerns about their dairy industry. There have been concerns for many years regarding the water quality issues in the Lower Fraser Valley on both sides of the Washington State and British Columbia (BC) border. Agricultural operations and activities appear to a significant contributing factor to the contamination (nitrates, phosphorus, pathogens) in surface waters and groundwater. Winter spreading is generally not recommended as there is a high risk for runoff from fields into watercourses and leaching into groundwater. The BC Ministries of Environment, Agriculture and Health and the Canadian federal government departments, such as Environment Canada, Fisheries and Oceans Canada have been cooperating and collaborating on these issues for many years, bringing what various resources they have to the issue. However, achieving compliance with requirements of the BC Ministry of Environment (ENV) Agricultural Waste Control Regulation (AWCR) has several challenges, including ambiguous and unspecific wording in the regulation. For example, in the current regulation, the emphasis on the phrase of “not causing pollution”, or prohibiting an activity “if it causes pollution” is problematic because it is not protective of the environment or human health — in actuality, it authorizes discharges up to a pollution threshold, does not consider cumulative impacts, and is proving resource intensive with respect to securing adequate evidence. Other jurisdictions appear to be ahead of BC in addressing these problems. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) and Washington State’s Environmental Agency have expressed concerns regarding international water quality issues (e.g., nitrates in Abbotsford-Sumas aquifer and surface waters migrating south), which need to be addressed. As well, the Agricultural Waste Control Regulation (AWCR) has not had a comprehensive review since it came into force in 1992. For these and other reasons, the AWCR was identified as a priority for review and updating to deal with the adverse impacts to the environment and human health from agricultural operations and activities in a more efficient and effective manner. The main challenge is to find appropriate and innovative ways to protect human health and the environment, provide regulatory certainty and ensure a sustainable and economically robust agricultural industry in BC.