RFP issued as aquifer restoration moves forward
A Request for Proposal (RFP) has been issued for a conceptual design plan to restore water supply to the aquifers that feed the downstream communities of Baynes Lake and Elko.
“This is an important step forward in this critical project and in getting sustained access to drinking water for these communities,” said Regional District of East Kootenay (RDEK) Electoral Area B Director Stan Doehle. “This is a long process, but this is an important step forward.”
The Request for Proposals closes on July 12, with the successful proponent’s plan to be completed by November 19. The conceptual design is intended to identify, assess, and recommend various options for restoring the supply of water to the Baynes Lake and Elko aquifers. It will include a detailed scope of work, an estimated cost, and a timeframe for implementation.
“Once we have a plan and these more concrete details, our next step will be to apply for the necessary permits, continue our First Nations consultation, and conduct environmental assessments,” explained Doehle. It is not yet known how long this phase of the project will take.
“In the meantime, our biggest concern is ensuring access to drinking water for the affected communities,”he added.
As a result, the RDEK is asking residents of Baynes Lake to do their part and conserve water by limiting unnecessary outdoor water use and abiding by voluntary watering days with odd numbered houses watering lawns and gardens on odd numbered days, and even numbered houses watering on even numbered days. Lawns only need to be watered two to three times per week in the early morning or evening.
“This method will keep our gardens and lawns healthy and provide a green space around our homes in line with FireSmart principals while reducing consumption,” said Doehle. “Following these watering guidelines is not mandatory; however, we ask residents to do their part and band together until a permanent solution is in place.”
During construction of the Elko Dam, the historic path of the river was changed, which directed water away from sinkholes thought to feed the South Country’s aquifer unless the dam was maintained at an elevation of 917 metres. Since the dam operations stopped 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.
Lead image: RDEK Electoral Area B Director Stan Doehle (left) toured the area with Kootenay East MLA Tom Shypitka (right) recently to provide the background and an update on the current status of the Elko Baynes Lake Aquifer Project. RDEK photos