LETTER: Fish farms are not the only farms creating pollution problems

Dear editor,

I find it very odd that a lot of people in the Comox Valley are very concerned about fish farming and the pollution it creates, but do not appear to be worried about the pollution that is occurring on their doorsteps.

I am talking about the practice of local farmers broadcasting livestock manure (either liquid or solid) on their fields. There are a lot of nutrients plus pathogens in this manure. Precipitation will cause the nitrate nitrogen (which is highly mobile) and other mobile nutrients in the manure to leach down to groundwater, wells and probably to the sea.

Phosphorous and potassium (also present in the manure) do not move readily in the ground since they attach themselves to soil particles. However, surface water that runs off a field (i.e. during the winter) that has had manure recently broadcast onto it will very likely have all of these dissolved nutrients and others in it. This “loaded” runoff will flow down ditches to the nearest creek or water run and again, end up in our waters off-shore. This is having a detrimental effect on shellfish, fin fish, sea weed, sea grass etc.

I was told by a person in a management position with our CVRD that the law enables farmers to do this because it is legislated “in the farmer’s right to farm.” If so, it is my opinion that the legislation should be changed.

In Alberta, the large feedlots are restricted by law to retain all manure produced within the operation onsite. It is then processed, composted and marketed as a soil amendment.

Whether it be salmon farming or livestock farming the excrement produced can be disposed of in a much more environmentally responsible way and could end up as another source of income. What it takes is the will (and maybe legislation) plus money to make it happen.

Len Paulovich


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