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Mitigating Non-Point Source Pollution in the Abbotsford Sumas Aquifer: An Evidence Based Evaluation of the Effectiveness of the BC Action Plan to Tackle Non-Point Source Water Pollution

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At the turn of the 20th century, BC completed its first public status report on the quality of water and found that 10% of the water sources monitored had poor water quality caused primarily by non-point source pollution. The Abbotsford-Sumas Aquifer (ASA) was mentioned in this report and it has had persistent and significant nitrate contamination, primarily from agriculture, for decades despite mitigation efforts. This poses significant public health, ecological and economic risks to the region. In 1999, the BC Action Plan to tackle non-point source (NPS) water pollution was released which focused on six key initiatives including (a) education and training (b) prevention at the site (c) land use, planning and coordination (d) assessment and reporting (e) economic incentives and (f) legislation and regulation. The following capstone evaluates to what extent the BC Action Plan was implemented to mitigate contamination of the ASA and how effective the key initiatives were at reducing NPS pollution. Evidence for this evaluation was collected through academic data base and targeted web based searches, and the capstone is informed by a range of resources, such as government documents, meeting minutes and scholarly journals. This evaluation allowed for the development of four key recommendations for actions moving forward to improve water quality in the aquifer and minimize negative public health impacts. These recommendations include strengthening the implementation of Beneficial Management Practises (BMPs) for agriculture, stricter legislation and tighter enforcement, increased coordination and commitment of local stakeholders and increased public awareness. As there will be increased focus on water quality in BC as the regulations under the Water Sustainability Act are implemented, and global pressure on water resources continues to build , there will be an increased urgency to prioritize collaborative efforts to protect our shared natural resource.
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