Does the Kettle River Management Plan warrant $50,000 of tax payer money? If the past is prologue to the future then the answer is no! Why spend more money and time on a study if there is no intestinal fortitude to talk about the real problem, cows and the politics of ranching?
Source water protection is the goal of all credible water management plans; no domestic animals in important water courses, vegetative buffers and restrictive manure management.
Source water protection is the law of the land in Ontario thanks to Walkerton May 2000 -- seven dead, 2300 seriously ill and over forty with serious life time health problems, all from the dreaded e-coli pathogen 0157 from cow manure in the town’s water system. The cost of the disaster to the Ontario taxpayer is estimated to be 200 million dollars.
Thirteen years on B.C.’s pathetic water management is in full view every time you pass the farm east of Greenwood adjacent to Highway 3. Eholt Creek, a fish bearing creek is seriously compromised by horses, sheep and alpacas. There is no riparian area management and the manure is piled close to the creek.
This is just one of hundreds of examples you can find in domestic water sheds, parks and quality recreation sites throughout the Boundary.
Has anything changed politically that gives us hope that the public interest will prevail and the antiquated tradition of cows living in all our rivers and streams will come to an end?
For starters Grand Forks is changing, many of the valley’s residents including new arrivals believe the cow needs to be controlled; a point re-enforced at the Fall Fair when discussing the Gilpin Wildlife Management Area designation. This argument is further supported by the fact that a growing number of adults no longer want to recreate in the Kettle River.
Idle No More, the recent First Nation’s agenda may well be the most important initiative that gives us hope that water source protection will not be another lost opportunity to get it right; after all, natives have made it very clear they have a right to potable water. One of their strong supporters, a well known BC Conservative politician, told me a few years ago that there was no stakeholder group more negatively impacted by the cow than natives.
The Kootenay Boundary Regional District politicians have stuck their neck out supporting the Kettle River Management Plan but will they publicly support source water protection? Will ranchers and their supporters come ut of the shadows and engage the public in meaningful debate? It is no longer if but when a BC Government supports source water protection. The lessons of history will have it no other way!
-- Letters represent the opinion of the writers and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board.