Although high water in the Columbia River is preventing the sewage treatment plant in Genelle’s Whispering Pines Trailer Park from working normally, any septic system woes are completely fabricated, says one long-time resident.
The waterfront community’s trailer park— located roughly12 kilometres northeast of Trail— has been under flood watch by the region’s emergency program coordinator for more than one week.
After water from the Columbia River spilled over its banks last week, a terrible smell encompassed the park, leaving residents to speculate whether the odour came from the river or the septic tank.
“We didn’t see any sewage, but there was a smell,” said Laura Blizard, a 10-year resident of Whispering Pines. “But it could be water at the bottom. If you came down here you wouldn’t see any sewage.”
According to Blizard, there is no risk or instance of sewage leaking into any of the trailers. The trailer park has its own sewage treatment plant and field—situated more than five feet above the water mark—and water is pulled from wells higher up near the entrance of the park.
In a number of places Dan Derby, deputy fire chief for the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary (RDKB), noticed erosion along the bank from the river around lower levels of the trailer park.
“There’s just no way (for sewage to leak),” Blizard said. “The river would have to rise an awful lot for that to happen.”
Last Thursday the owner of Whispering Pines, Barry Thoen, held a public meeting to address concerns about the rising water levels. At the time, he had no concerns about the septic field, which he indicated was five-feet above the water.
Currently, Genelle is being protected by BC Hydro’s newly constructed berm, an action that stems from the first damage recorded on 17th Avenue and Lower China Creek Road.
The newly constructed berm is expected to prevent further flooding on park homes, in addition to protecting the roadways.
Blizard and her husband, John, own a trailer facing the river and watch for changes daily. She explained that there was about one foot of water, but it hadn’t impeded access to their home or flooded into it.
However, BC Hydro predicted that the high water levels could remain somewhat problematic until early August.
“I don’t think it will get anywhere near our trailer unless the dam breaks,” she said with a chuckle.
“There is no danger, people are still drinking their water and the health department has been out here to test the water. They were here again three or four days ago.”