Campbell River group worried about threat to drinking water


WATCH: Campbell River Environmental Committee says future expansion at Uplands Excavating could contaminate the water supply. Dean Stoltz reports. 

McIvor Lake is one in a chain of lakes that supplies drinking water to 35,000 people in Campbell River.

But just over a narrow berm where Highway 28 runs to Gold River sits Rico Lake, which is right beside Upland Excavating.

Upland Excavating has applied for a permit through the Ministry of Environment to build a double-lined landfill at one end of its gravel pit that would see varying degrees of material buried there.

“So it’s a highly engineered landfill,” said Uplands Manager Terry Stuart. “And what our operational plan entails is contaminated soils if need be and construction demo debris. We don’t want any hazardous materials.”

But considering the site’s proximity to Rico Lake, the Campbell River Environmental Committee (CREC) says it has serious concerns.

“You look around at the different areas and the different lakes that’s around where you want to have a landfill and you do background testing and I feel it hasn’t been done especially in Rico lake,” said CREC President Leona Adams.

Adams says if Rico Lake gets contaminated by activities at Upland, then McIvor and the rest of the drinking water supply is at risk.

“So now they want to fill up that pit with 25,000 m³ a year of potentially contaminated construction and demolition waste and contaminated soil.”

Terry Stuart says the term contaminated soil is easily misunderstood.

“Contaminated soil has been used and bantered around in kind of a bad way,” he said. “If you took soils from Vancouver Island and put them in the interior because the soils here are different than what’s in the interior it would be considered contaminated in some areas.”

CREC is also concerned about creosote coated timbers from the decommissioned Salmon River Diversion Dam. They are currently buried about 750 metres from Rico lake but if Upland gets its permit to turn part of the pit into a landfill, they’ll be moved there, which is closer to Rico Lake.

However, Terry Stuart says the bottom of the pit is far below the bottom of the Lake so any contamination will not seep into the lake.

“And remember all the water always in a bathtub always settles to the bottom there’s never going to be any water that can spill out the top because it just doesn’t happen. It would go against the laws of physics,” he said.

Under the permit application, the water at the bottom of the landfill would be pumped to a treatment facility on site before being released.

CREC says the fact the landfill would be double-lined does little to diminish its fears.

“All liners fail. All liners seep,” she said. Even though they’re going to use a bentonite liner, that seeps also.”

“All the Campbell River Environmental Committee is saying his show us there is zero risk to our drinking water,” said Adams.

“There is zero harm or potential harm to the water in Campbell River and I understand the people’s concern but there is no potential factors that will affect the drinking water,” said Stuart.

Dean StoltzDean Stoltz

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