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Local politicians tour Avola property with contaminated water supply

The property owners have been without clean drinking water for almost one year
Nels Olson on a logging road that was recently put in but not finished. The construction of the road, he said, have damaged and contaminated their water supply downstream. (Stephanie Hagenaars photo)

Two local politicians received a tour of an Avola property on Friday, July 22, where logging practices contaminated the creek-fed water system.

Beth Patterson and Nels Olson escorted Thompson-Nicola Regional District Director for Area B Stephen Quinn and Kamloops-North Thompson MLA Peter Milobar along their recently-acquired property, showing them the damage to their water system from logging practices along the creek.

Almost one year ago, Patterson and Olson have not had access to clean, safe drinking water on their property due to a new logging road installed across the creek where they source their water. Construction of the road has been on and off since August 2021, but the level of fine sediment in the couple’s water has not changed.

Patterson said she has to vacuum out the washing machine due to do all the silt left behind. They regularly visit Olson’s parent’s place to shower without feeling they have sand in their hair.

Each party has secured a lawyer, something Milobar said limits his powers in the legislature, though won’t completely stop him from bringing the matter up with the ministers.

Patterson’s concern right now, however, is that there currently isn’t strong legislation to control or limit how much sediment is released into bodies of water. Something she asked Milobar to advocate for.

Indeed, in a January 2022 report by the Forest Practices Board, it was found that “about one-third of all sites monitored are exceeding government’s target threshold for the amount of sediment deposited into a stream each year,” between 2008 and 2020. It also stated over the years this number has had any significant change, indicating there’s been minimal improvement in forest practices.

The couple was also concerned about a notice from 100 Mile Lumber, a division of West Fraser Mills Ltd., about a proposed 20 to 30-person camp that would be installed behind the cemetery next to the property. The camp raises concerns of increased activity in the area potentially causing further damage the water system and more headaches.

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Sediment can be seen gathering at the bottom of one of the settling ponds on the property of Beth Patterson and Nels Olson. (Stephanie Hagenaars photo)