RDEK seeks in-stream work permit to aid water supply
As properties in the Baynes Lake area continue to struggle with decreasing water supply issues, the Regional District of East Kootenay (RDEK) is looking at taking steps to move forward with a solution that would return water to the sinkholes that feed the aquifer and restore the community watershed.
“One of the solutions that has been identified by the geologists who have spent considerable time studying the watershed, including the use of geological evidence and chemical water testing, is to sculpt out a back channel upstream of the decommissioned Elko Dam, which would permanently wet the sinkholes that are critical to the downstream water supply,” explained RDEK Electoral Area B Director Stan Doehle.
The RDEK board directed regional staff to work directly with Water Stewardship to seek approvals for work in the river channel.
If approved, the RDEK would be granted a temporary permit to complete the work and re-establish the water supply.
“RDEK staff have already reached out to Water Stewardship to open the dialogue and share the information we have gathered to date, so we are hopeful that the province will approve the proposed work and work with us to fast-track that approval process given the short window before winter sets in,” added Doehle, who will also be reaching out to local industry to discuss the current status of the water crisis and the potential for their support for the project.
During construction of the Elko Dam, the historic path of the river was changed which deprived the South Country’s aquifer of needed water supply unless the dam was maintained at an elevation of 917 metres. Following the decommissioning of the dam in 2016, the community has been dealing with steadily declining water levels, which are now at record lows in Baynes Lake and the surrounding area.
The RDEK board Oct. 2 authorized the Board Chair Rob Gay to declare a state of local emergency, if it is deemed necessary to advance approvals more expediently.
Lead image: The Elk River upstream of Elko Dam. e-KNOW file photo