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Golden’s landfill may not be to blame for water contamination

A resident who lives beside the Golden Landfill has asked the Columbia Shuswap Regional District (CSRD) to stop entering onto her property to clean up landfill debris.
Andrea Weissenborn says garbage from the Golden landfill has been affecting their property. Pictured is just some of the litter that is throughout the property. Star Photo

A resident who lives beside the Golden Landfill has asked the Columbia Shuswap Regional District (CSRD) to stop entering onto her property to clean up landfill debris.

The issue with debris leaving the landfill site and ending up on Andrea Weissenborn’s property has been ongoing for years, and the CSRD has made an agreement to enter her property to clean up the waste on a regular basis. CSRD workers had been visiting the Weissenborn property a couple of times a week to clean up the litter that ended up outside of the landfill, which Weissenborn believes is mostly carried there by ravens.

“As private land owners, we sort of put conditions on that. They didn’t really meet the conditions, and they refused to give us an end date,” Weissenborn said, adding that thousands of pounds of garbage has already been removed from her property.

She invited town councillors out to walk on her property again this fall, as she had done in the spring of this year to show them that the cleanup wasn’t complete.

“In the past, we have been open to them cleaning it up, but it has never been satisfactory,” Weissenborn said. “In the past, we thought that was just part of living next to a landfill.”

Between June and October 2018, the CSRD collected more than 200 bags of litter from the Weissenborn property, weighing nearly 1,000 kg. Over the next year, the CSRD plans to continue site improvements at the Golden Landfill, including completing the litter netting, which should help prevent litter from exiting the property, and they hope to continue discussions with the neighbouring property owner regarding increased buffer area acquisition.

Weissenborn also voiced concerns about water contamination in Town of Golden wells, but the CSRD’s hydrogeologist with Western Water Bryer Manwell, says the numbers aren’t out of the ordinary, and it would be difficult to tell if any contaminants came directly from the landfill.

There are many different chemicals and minerals underneath the ground surface. In some areas, chloride and nitrate occur naturally under the surface, but in some cases it can be influenced by unnatural sources, like a landfill, Manwell explained.

“There is a potential for the landfill to be contributing to those parametres of concern, but when we look at the relativity of it, it is very, very low,” Manwell said. “There is likely another source.”

Manwell hopes to complete the well at the southwest of the property, and is recommending to drill another well in the valley bottom, somewhere between the landfill and the Town wells, but not too close to a roadway.

There is a report that was presented to Town of Golden council on October 16, outlining the findings from new and existing well sites at the landfill and in the Town of Golden.

In 2013, the CSRD began investigating off-site migration of landfill leachate, and has drilled two wells on site to help establish groundwater flow direction, which would help them better understand where an offsite well should be installed.

They also looked into water quality exceedances that were sampled from four domestic wells, and investigated stressed vegetation south of the landfill site.

One of the water wells at the landfill showed high signs of lithium and sulphate.