Cobble Hill couple worried about future of farm after concrete plant runoff floods fields

Cobble Hill couple worried about future of farm after concrete plant runoff floods fields

WATCH: A Cobble Hill couple is worried about the future of their farm because of runoff from a cement plant through their property. As Kori Sidaway tells us, with the rain likely worsening overnight, they’re worried its a problem that can’t be stopped.

Even in the rain, Norm Swift and Maggie Cahill’s farm is a little slice of heaven.

But now, a river runs through it.

“Our fields will get wet, but not like this,” said Cahill.

The lot uphill is set to be a cement plant. And the many trees that used to dot the hillside have been taken down, leaving the land remains open and bare.

“They’ve changed the whole landscape,” said Cahill.

“Before we would never see this much runoff come off of there.”

And today’s rains brought a big problem.

“Now that there’s nothing to soak up the water or stop the water, we are getting the brunt of it here,” said Cahill.

Runoff from the plant is rushing its way through a ditch beside their property, pooling at the bottom, before snaking its way into the nearby Patrolas Creek.

“I’m pissed off, I can’t believe that you’re going to put a plant in and not consider a fish-bearing creek and the people around,” said Swift.

But their concern is also much more immediate.

“We have a well that’s only 14 feet deep and our concern is whether or not this runoff is going to be affecting our drinking water,” said Cahill.

And their many calls for help, have so far gone unanswered.

“Nobody seems to be willing to do anything to alleviate this problem,” said Cahill.

“I’ve contacted the Ministry of Environment, Ministry of Transportation, the NDP, Green Party, the CVRD, and I haven’t been able to talk to anybody, I’ve only been able to leave messages.”

But late this afternoon, representatives from Langley Concrete who own the site, assessed the damage.

“Further to a storm-water management system designed to manage runoff while the site is under construction, we have additional silt traps, catch basins, silt bags, fences and hay bales to help from any of this moving into the environment inappropriately,” said Langley Concrete Group’s GM of island operations Gavin Geist.

“The very heavy rainfall in a short period of time seemed to top-over some of these elements. If any extra steps need to be taken, we’re happy to execute as much.”

For now, the company has put a plug in the outgoing culvert to contain the water flow. The Ministry of Environment, while they couldn’t comment today, is looking into the issue as well.

But with more rain likely ahead, Swift and Cahill remain worried that this may be a temporary fix for a problem that may have long term effects on the stream, their fields, and their livestock.

Kori SidawayKori Sidaway

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