Al Siebring photo _edited.jpg

Regional District waste operations violate BC environmental regulations

North Cowichan farm non-compliant for manure application

Two municipal waste systems operated by Cowichan Valley Regional District near Mill Bay were cited for a slew of environmental violations this year, a review of provincial compliance-and-enforcement documents by sixmountains.ca shows.

The violations occurred at the Bruelette and Kerry Village waste-treatment facilities, which are among numerous such facilities that the regional district has inherited over the years and continue to pose non-compliance problems.

“We have 36 water and sewer utilities spread throughout the regional district,” Brian Dennison, manager of water management, said Monday.

“Problems started emerging, lousy infrastructure built by a…developer who just wants to develop it and escape, all those kinds of reasons. One way or another we’ve accumulated all 36. It’s a giant challenge.”

The district received a federal-provincial grant of about $6 million to process waste from four facilities in the Mill Bay area into one new central plant just built at Mill Springs.

Dennison said the collection system to feed the new central plant should be operational in about 1.5 years, with the ability to accommodate about 1,400 homes.

The BC Environment Ministry issued a warning letter Sept. 15 for Kerry Village and May 26 for Brulette for a total of more than 500 effluent exceedances into ground related to biochemical oxygen demand, total suspended solids, fecal coliform, turbidity, nitrate and total nitrogen.

Meanwhile, in North Cowichan, the province issued a non-compliance letter Feb. 4 to Running W Egg Farm Ltd., a company “doing business” as Farmer Ben’s Eggs, after a complaint related to spreading manure, provincial documents show.

Al Siebring photo _edited.jpg

Ian Woike told sixmountains.ca that the two companies are separate and that his wife, marketing manager Jennifer Woike, works for Farmer Ben’s Eggs (the largest egg producer on Vancouver Island), but has ownership in neither company.

Jennifer Woike is co-founder of Cowichan Works, is a former councillor, and has just been appointed a commissioner to the Agricultural Land Commission for two years. Ian Woike said she resigned her position with Cowichan Works in late September. He also said that Running W Egg Farm has since made changes to bring itself into compliance.

The province requires that a person who applies nutrients to land must protect against the escape of leachate to watercourses, across property boundaries, or below the seasonal high-water table and to ensure that the amount of nitrogen in the soil does not exceed the amount required for optimum crop growth and yield.

Among other cases cited by the province in 2021:
Blacky's Auto Recycling Ltd., Duncan, Sept. 24 warning letter, improper storage and documentation of hazardous waste.
Top Shelf Feeds Inc., Duncan, Sept. 21 non-compliance letter, unauthorized discharge from an overflow pipe. The discharge was not critical to the process and instead of applying for a permit amendment the company said it would eliminate the discharge.
Cowichan Valley Millworks, cabinet and countertops, Cobble Hill, Sept. 8 warning letter, waste discharge related to an unauthorized wood-dust extraction system.
Xcelcor Services Ltd., Cobble Hill, May 13 non-compliance letter, pesticide management violations.

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— Larry Pynn Nov. 1, 2021