RDKB looking for tips on debris left in rivers by 2018 flood

Residents can report debris sites to the RDKB, to then have them removed by spring

The Regional District of Kootenay Boundary is looking to hear about machine-made or non-natural materials in stream channels throughout the region that may have found their way into the water during the 2018 flooding events.

According to Kettle River watershed planner Kristina Anderson, the regional district has some funding available through Emergency Management BC to support a clean-up effort of local waterways – something that several residents have expressed a need for.

“Recently we’ve been hearing about more people saying that there’s still a lot of debris in the stream channels,” Anderson said.

The money available would go towards paying a contractor to remove debris from waterways within the watershed, with the criteria being fairly straightforward.

“Anything that’s got artificial machine-made materials that are in a stream channel from high watermark to high watermark,” Anderson said of what’s eligible to be dealt with under the funding available, which has yet to be determined.

“Once we have an idea of what’s involved,” Anderson said, “we’re going to be going to [Emergency Management BC] and saying, ‘This is what we need.’ At this stage of the game, all they’ve said is, ‘We’re really interested in financially supporting the project because we see it as very important.’”

Because the funding available is under the umbrella of flood recovery, removal and clean-up projects proposed must be correlated with high-water events of 2018. That said, Anderson explained that if someone were to raise the issue of something in the river that was moved during high-water events of 2017, they should still bring it forward as an option.

“Talk to me about it,” Anderson said, “and we’ll see if we can bring that in, because that was another big event in this area.”

But for things like old car parts or full vehicles used previously for bank stabilization – those will have to wait for another go-around, she said.

To report debris, Anderson said that residents must have GPS coordinates associated to the site, so that the objects can be easily located by the contractor. GPS coordinates can be obtained by using Google Maps on a smartphone or computer, or with a GPS device.

To report a site, residents can contact Anderson through the RDKB by calling 250-442-2708. The RDKB has also set up a Join the Conversation link online where people can report debris in waterways. The site has an interactive map to make site identification easier.

Anderson is hoping to hear back from all residents with site tips by Nov. 15. That way, removal work can start before winter hits in earnest and before water levels rise again in the spring.

The importance of removing foreign objects

Anderson explained that it’s important to remove debris from rivers, at the risk of leaving them behind to cause permanent and unpredictable changes to the water flow.

“As soon as you have that solid material that’s in the river, you can end up causing an erosion problem and a change of channels.

“Even though you may be looking at it right now thinking, ‘Hey, you know, it’s not doing too badly right now,’ another high water event could move it to somewhere else. And next thing you know you’ve got a big problem on your hands.”

Things like wire, meanwhile, can leech into the river system or ensnare plants and wildlife, or even unsuspecting summertime tubers.

“What we’re trying to do is really clean up from the extent of the damage and try to bring back that natural system.”

The RDKB Board has also approved a plan for demolishing two homes this fall, one in Almond Gardens and one on Danish Road in rural Grand Forks. The properties have been ordered evacuated since May 2018 due to catastrophic flooding. The homes are on actively eroding land falling into the Kettle River, posing an immediate and ongoing environmental risk if the houses topple.

A technical analysis shows the homes are not salvageable. The contract value is known to be excess of $100,000 and will be put out for tender as soon as possible, with work beginning upon approval from Emergency Management BC.


@jensenedw
Jensen.edwards@grandforksgazette.ca

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