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Posted: October 5, 2020

Project scope expands after new hazard assessment

A debris flood expert has completed an updated hazard assessment on Cold Spring Creek in Fairmont Hot Springs and has presented his findings to the Regional District of East Kootenay (RDEK) board.

Dr. Mattias Jakob of BGC Engineering assessed the watershed this summer as part of the RDEK’s Cold Spring Creek Debris Flow Mitigation Project. The study details the historical evidence of debris flood and debris flow activity going back hundreds of years and provides updated modelling on the potential size of future events.

Electoral Area F Director Susan Clovechok

“The report highlights that previous studies underestimated the potential for risk,” said Electoral Area F Director Susan Clovechok. “As a result, the RDEK has taken immediate action to widen the scope of the Cold Spring Creek project and will now be working with Dr. Jakob and the community to clarify the risks, share risk reduction recommendations and identify appropriate mitigation measures.”

Community meetings will be scheduled in the near future and details will be shared with the community as soon as the meeting dates are confirmed. A project page has been created, which includes links to the reports related to the Cold Spring Creek project. New information will continue to be added to the project page moving forward.

The Cold Spring Creek project was identified as a priority by the board during its 2020 Strategic Planning process late last year. In March, the RDEK was awarded $750,000 through the Union of BC Municipalities’ Community Emergency Preparedness Fund Structural Flood Mitigation Program.

An additional $150,000 was allocated from the Fairmont Flood and Landslide Service Area reserves to bring the project total to $900,000. Completing an updated risk assessment was one of the first steps in the process.

While the original intent of the project was to address the debris flood hazard, with the increased potential for damaging debris flows, the RDEK will be prioritizing debris flow mitigation in the first phase of the project, which is now expected to involve multiple phases. “We felt it was important to share the report as soon as possible with the community and are taking immediate steps to expand the scope of the project to encompass a solution that will add a more robust level of protection in the event of a debris flow,” said Clovechok.

The consultants have completed a conceptual design for a debris flow containment net and the total cost for this phase is estimated to be $1.375 million.

“Dr. Jakob’s assessment has given us new understanding and we recognize the importance of making Phase 1 of this project happen as seamlessly as possible. Today the board approved $275,000 in new Community Works funding and the re-allocation of $200,000 that was previously approved for the Swansea Road watermain project to ensure funding is in place and Phase 1 can be completed,” Clovechok said Oct. 2.

With a potential cost of $11 million dollars for future phases of the project, the RDEK will also be seeking out additional funding sources and will be engaging with the property owners within the Fairmont Flood and Landslide Service Area regarding the likely need for future borrowing to help fund the project.

“This is the beginning of what will be detailed and ongoing communication with residents and property owners,” stressed the Area F Director. “Our next step will be the community meetings, which we hope to have scheduled soon.”

Lead image: Cold Spring Creek debris trap (reservoir) on the afternoon of June 7. RDEK file photo


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