Have you ever met someone who does the right thing, in spite of intense pressure from all sides not to?
I have the priviledge of being able to call someone like that my friend. Bev Anderson is someone who stands tall for her determination, courage, and commitment to protect the environment and the public water supply, in the face of opposition and threats from bosses, local politicians, and farmers.
Yes, farmers. Bev was a an enforcement officer with the British Columbia Ministry of Water, Land and Air Protection, and it was her job to make sure that farmers followed regulations when they applied manure to the soil. Sounds inglorious, perhaps, until you think of Walkerton, Ontario, and how many people died and were injured there because of e.coli from cow manure entering the public water supply.
Bev fought hard for public safety and the environment in the Lower Mainland, enduring pressure and even physical threats from farmers who didn’t want to spend the money to dispose of manure safely. Some of these farmers were well connected, with a relative who was (still is) a highly placed politician; his influence ensured that her spineless bosses made her job very, very difficult. She finally lost the battle and her job.
However, the war may not be over; The Georgia Straight has published an article on her story:
Government files show that throughout the valley many farmers had routinely broken a host of agricultural and environmental laws involving storage and spreading of manure. The biggest worry was that contaminants in the manure would pollute aquifers as well as local streams, sloughs, and river channels during periods of heavy rainfall. And it fell almost entirely to Anderson to deal with the issue… And now, with the disappearance of people like Anderson, we have virtually no enforcement.
In the absence of enforcement, … pollutants will continue to pose a threat to human health and the environment. And the source of those pollutants in places like the Fraser Valley will likely continue to be farming operations.
With Anderson gone, Schreier says the entire province of British Columbia–not just the Fraser Valley–is down to one public servant working on manure-management issues. No matter how vigilant that government employee is, he can’t do the job. And his political masters know it.
if you live in the Lower Mainland of BC, I urge you to read the article carefully. Another Walkerton is in the making there, and with Bev gone, no one is left to stop it from happening.
I’m glad that Bev finally got the recognition she deserves, and I’m proud to call her my friend.