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E.coli in water near feedlot
Red Deer Advocate
Central Alberta's Daily Newspaper
By Lana Michelin Advocate staff, Nov 03 2004.
Several neighbours of an intensive feedlot operation near Didsbury are now finding E. coli bacteria and fecal coliforms in their drinking water. "It's the very problem we expected," said Katherine McCulloch, who feared soil and water contamination would result after AAA Cattle Co. received permission to expand to an 18,200 head beef and; finisher lot from 2,500 animals. McCulloch said tests show her well water has been polluted with E. coli and coliforms for several months. The potentially sickness-inducing bacteria even made a reappearance after the system was flushed with bleach, she added. "We are extremely concerned for our health and our future water supply." The Didsbury resident is convinced the contamination is caused by the feedlot. But this has not been substantiated.
Alberta Environment, the Calgary Regional Health Authority and the Natural Resources Conservation Board have taken well water samples and are investigating to see if they are linked to the AAA Cattle Co. Feedlot co-owner Simon Cobban could not be reached for comment late on Tuesday. McCulloch lives about 900 metres from AAA Cattle Co., which was allowed to expand in 2003. George Kurtz, who lives about two km away, has also discovered E. coli and coliforms in his well water, as well as a substantial drop in the underground aquifer. Before discovering the bacteria, Kurtz said water in his well sank by 5.5 metres. "I know it's connected to (AAA Cattle Co). They had just done a major pump ... west of here to fill a dugout," said Kurtz, who like McCulloch, has been drinking bottled water since last summer.
Both neighbours say they never experienced water quality problems before. Up to now, Kurtz, a farmer, has been reluctant to speak out against another farming operation. But he has come to believe the local aquifer is being polluted by the feedlot, so Kurtz said he will discuss joining an appeal of AAA Cattle Co.'s water license. The Lone Pine committee, made up of intensive livestock opponents, plans to approach the Environmental Appeal Board about this. But the group is first slated to challenge the feedlot's expansion in the Alberta Court of Appeal in Calgary on Monday. Lone Pine member Murray Marsh believes the Natural Resource Conservation Board did not follow legislation when it allowed the feedlot to expand without requiring mandatory upgrades.
"That's the grounds for our appeal.”
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