Photos by Michelle Bedford
Something smells, and it isn’t the smelter.
The community of Genelle encountered a series of inescapable problems involving rising water levels and the regional sewer system late last week, but BC Hydro predicts that the water woes are merely a catch-22 for residents this summer.
The waterfront community—located 12 kilometres northeast of Trail—is under flood watch by the region’s emergency program coordinator after water from the Columbia River spilled over its banks last week.
Dan Derby, deputy fire chief for the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary (RDKB), said it has been monitoring the situation in Genelle for more than one week.
“We’re out there on a regular basis,” he said Tuesday, noting that he is aware of the impacts that are a result of the floodwater.
In a number of places Derby noticed erosion from the river and water covering the lower levels of the Whispering Pines Trailer Park.
“We’re continuing to get calls on minor issues because of the ground being super saturated,” Derby said.
According to some residents, flood water and sewage has seeped into some homes in the lower regions of the trailer park, leaving water on some of their floors.
The RDKB director of environmental services, Alan Stanley, said the high water levels are affecting the Glenmerry pump station and the main sewage treatment plant by Waneta Plaza.
“We’re worried about our infrastructure and, basically, our sewer lines,” he said. “They are under the river right now and they’re not supposed to be.”
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 berm is expected to prevent further flooding on park homes, in addition to protecting the roadways. While residents sit tight in anticipation of what their neighborhood will look like by the time water recedes from any areas that have been jeopardized areas, the local authorities are searching for solutions.
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 fivefeet above the water. However, BC Hydro predicted that the high water levels could remain somewhat problematic until early August.
BC Hydro spokesperson Jennifer Walker- Larsen said without the operation of upstream Columbia River Treaty dams, the peak flow in the Columbia River would be approximately double its current flow. And within five per cent of the historic maximum flows ever seen during the major pre-dam flood years of 1948 and 1961.
On Friday BC Hydro allowed the Arrow Lakes Reservoir to reach its full pool level of 440.1 m. (1,444 ft.) and predicted it will continue to rise as much as 0.6 m. (two ft.) above the normal full pool over the next several weeks, depending on weather conditions.