High Columbia River flows create water woes in Trail

Rising water levels in Genelle have raised red flags about the impact of the Columbia River in Greater Trail.

Rising water levels in Genelle have raised red flags about the impact of the Columbia River in Greater Trail.

The Glenmerry pump station is beginning to look like a water vessel, according to Alan Stanley the director of environmental services at the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary (RDKB).

The water pump station at Glenmerry should be several metres from the shoreline, but the extreme flows of the Columbia River have reached the point of no return, and they are infiltrating the safety overflow


“It’s ridiculous where the water is, it’s right up against the building and it’s supposed to be many meters from the shoreline,” Stanley indicated while explaining that a crew of divers will be examining whether a device can be used to plug the backflow of water coming into the lift station.

“It’s the highest the river has been since this building was designed and built in the late ‘60s,” Stanley explained. “I’ve been here for five years so I have little long-term history and knowledge of these events,

other than the fact that in terms of our sewage records, we’ve never seen anything like what we’re dealing with now.”

While strong currents in the river continue flowing, the City of Trail public works manager Larry Abenante and his team have been monitoring the Old Trail Bridge. He expected the high water levels to continue all summer, but was apprehensive about what kinds of damage it could have on infrastructure.

“The (old) bridge is shut down because, structurally, it’s not sound,” Abenante said. “But we check it about three times every day. I’ve never seen the river like this before.”

Other areas in Greater Trail—like the boat launch picnic area in Gyro Park—are also under scrutiny from watchdog city officials.

“We’re urging caution because people who go down to those areas can forget where they are,” he indicated, stating BC Hydro predicted the high water levels were slated to stay for the duration of the summer season.

BC Hydro has been monitoring the Arrow Lakes Reservoir water levels and Columbia River flows.

A recent statement from their site said there is no risk to public safety because the Hugh L. Keenleyside dam was designed for a maximum Arrow Lakes Reservoir level above 440.74 meters (1,446 feet).

However, a number of precautionary procedures and protocols are in place to manage these conditions, including 24-hour surveillance of the Hugh L. Keenleyside dam and regular checks downstream of the facility after every flow change. These initiatives are in place to help monitor downstream impacts.