Receding river reveals damage

The waters of the Columbia River are now receding, leaving a huge cleanup task and a bill for damages for the City of Trail to pick up.

The waters of the Columbia River are now receding but are leaving a huge cleanup task and a bill for damages for the City of Trail to pick up.

It is estimated costs for assessing and repairing the damage caused by the highest river level in over 50 years could peg for “hundreds of thousands of dollars,” said the city councillor in charge of the public works’ portfolio.

Although the city’s engineering department is currently estimating damages, Gord DeRosa said there’s going to be major costs to the city once the water of the river has returned to a normal level and assessment, and repair, can begin.

He pointed to the condition of the over taxed storm sewer lines that feed into the regional system as one of the major concerns, and likely one of the major costs of what infrastructure was damaged.

“If, in fact, the water table put them underwater, the question is did that put strain on those pipes since they are only clay lined pipes?” he asked. “Are they still connected? Unbroken? That is something that has to be determined.”

But Thursday the Columbia River had come down three feet from its high of approximately 215,000 cubic feet per second on July 22 from the Hugh Keenleyside Dam near Castlegar.

The river is expected to continue dropping over the next few weeks, which is good news for people living along its banks just outside of the city. Although BC Hydro is taking down the berm in the lower reaches of Genelle as the flood threat subsides, two properties in that community have been damaged by the high water and will need remediation.

River water washed away the gardens of one property and forced the homeowners to chain up their gazebo to their house so it wouldn’t float down the river. A neighbour had to do the same with their greenhouse.

“So, as a result, all of their hard work had washed away, and all of their beautiful showcase gardens were gone. So they were concerned about that,” said Area B regional director Linda Worley.

Their homes are fine, but their outbuildings and yards have been heavily damaged.

Worley said there is a venue through BC Hydro for re-imbursement for damages for those people, as well as anyone else affected by the water’s rise.

Information was given to residents in Rivervale and Genelle who could have been hit with personal property damage. They will have to fill out forms to apply for some relief (see contact information).

DeRosa said it will also be interesting to see how the City of Trail’s river wall fared through the high water. There was a restoration plan in place for the river wall, including rip rap along the base of the wall.

“Now that has been exposed to some pretty high and fast water. It will be interesting to see what the footings look like now,” said DeRosa.

Surprisingly enough the Old Trail Bridge is still standing and hasn’t moved, he added. Even so, the city still won’t allow pedestrian traffic on it right now.

DeRosa also noted that the public wharf has sustained about $30,000 in damage from the high river water and will also need to be repaired.

Looking ahead DeRosa said the city is preparing now for when the next weather event touches the region. They will be looking to get in some outside engineering help to examine the overall system just to see what its capacity is.

“Now is the time to look at the complete system and see if we are capable of handling these (weather events) and what happens if there going to be a re-occurrence of these extreme weather events,” he said.

There is going to be some storm sewer pipe re-sizing and review of the entire sewer system’s capacity in the coming weeks.

Seasonal weather forecasts from Environment Canada are indicating an increased likelihood of hotter than normal temperatures through mid-August, and three-month (July, August, September) forecasts of above normal temperature and below normal precipitation across most of the province.

“Despite the presence of higher than normal stream flows across most of the province at present, there is the potential for emerging stream flow issues if the seasonal weather forecasts hold true,” the forecast read.

This is most pertinent in smaller creeks and rivers where summer flows are maintained by rainfall, meaning water levels could drop.

Claims for property damage due to recent flooding:

Sharon Szameit, Reservoir Rights Service, Edmonds 14th Floor, B.C.Hydro

6911 Southpoint Drive

Burnaby B.C.  V3N 4X8

Homeowner assistance is only available for a principal residence.

Seasonal properties and secondary homes are not eligible.