The Regional District of Kootenay Boundary (RDKB) Area D has plans to take responsibility of Saddle Lake.
A motion was passed at the last RDKB board of directors regular meeting in Grand Forks and RDKB Chief Administrative Officer John MacLean explained that Saddle Lake is a small man-made lake located in Electoral Area D, just west of the City of Grand Forks.
Constructed in 1923 by the Doukhobor community, the dam was created to supply irrigation water for agricultural purposes in the area.
“The lake is formed by spring water (there are no visible creeks or streams feeding the lake) being retained by a concrete dam,” he said. “From our conversations with the Province of B.C., other than a few simple projects that will require some financial resources at the outset, what is needed the most is monitoring.”
MacLean noted there are costs and risks associated with taking responsibility of the lake and dam, but there are services in place to take on the responsibility.
Property owner Lorraine Hubbard noted she and her husband originally purchased the water rights in 1983.
Hubbard cited her age and the fact that she doesn’t need the water source anymore as a reason for passing on the lake.
This also includes new regulatory requirements created by the provincial government in response to the Testalinden Dam failure near Oliver.
“There is a lot of maintenance and everything also has to be done and I don’t have the strength to do it,” she explained. “I don’t use it anymore so why should I have it. At the moment everything is still up in the air and it’s taking some time so right now the rights are still mine.”
The process began in April 2011, but Hubbard noted there has been a lot of paperwork to get to this point.
A letter to Hubbard from the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations explained there were several issues that need to be addressed as well before the water rights could be exchanged, including an emergency preparedness plan that has to be submitted, an annual formal inspection of the dam and recorded results have not occurred.
According to a letter addressed to Hubbard, the ministry recommended items that need to occur include “a spillway structure, vegetative growth on the downstream dam must be removed and maintenance and testing of the outlet valve must be carried out.”
However, after a cursory assessment, Saddle Lake dam appears structurally sound.
“We’re still in the process now so the responsibilities of the regional district aren’t clear yet,” said Perepolkin.
“It has been approved before the board and there are still a few things that have to be ironed out before we can proceed with anything. The whole board has to agree with anything we plan to do if we decide to start up any new services, and this is a new service.”
Perepolkin hopes to maintain the current lake and keep it natural with no developments.
“We may add a couple of trails through there with a couple of tables and benches, but nothing has been decided as yet,” she concluded. “We hope keep the lake as is for its natural and habitat values, as well as its heritage values.”