The Bulkley Valley Credit Union is paying the first $10,000 for the engineering study to save Irrigation Lake.
“Irrigation Lake is an integral part of our community,” said Tanya Amonson, Manager of the BV Credit Union in Houston.
The Irrigation dam doesn’t meet safety standards so the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations sent a letter to stakeholders June 26 saying that if they don’t have a new water licence holder and an engineered plan in place by July 29 they will start plans to pull out the dam.
Steve Page, representative for Irrigation Lake stakeholders, talked to the Houston council last week Tuesday about Irrigation.
Page said that with the funding promised from the Credit Union, he signed a contract with Carl Pentilchuk, Water Resources Engineer with Pentilchuk Engineering in Kamloops.
Pentilchuk is coming in August or September, Page said, adding that he thinks it’s fairly likely that the Ministry will extend the deadline.
MLA John Rustad said he is hopeful that the Ministry will extend the deadline if stakeholders take steps forward and have a plan in place as to how they will bring the dam to code.
“I’ve asked the Ministry to look at the possibility of extending the time period, but it’s based on the commitment that [stakeholders] take some steps forward,” Rustad said.
Page says they’ve had good progress.
“The only requirement we won’t meet is that we won’t have the design completed, but we have a signed contract with an engineer, and funding for that, so I think we’ve done the best we could,” he said.
He adds that no one has yet taken on the water licence, but stakeholders are meeting with the water stewardship branch to discuss the water licence.
Talking to Houston council last week Tuesday, Page invited council members to join the discussion.
“It would be nice if the council could hear the responsibilities and the rights of whoever takes over the water licence,” Page said.
Houston Deputy Mayor Shane Brienen said the main concern of council is liability, but several councillors agreed to attend the upcoming meeting to discuss the water licence.
Page said the park on the east side of the lake, owned by the District of Houston, is what would be most affected if the dam was pulled out and the lake dropped two to four metres.
“Even conservative measurements say that there will be at least 30 metres of mud and then the start of the water,” said Page, adding that there could be up to 80 metres.
He says the amount of mud would be much less on the west side by Rock Nest Ranch and Rough Acres Bible Camps because the lake is deeper on that side.
Page says he has talked to engineers again, and now estimates that the dam upgrades will cost $70 to $80,000.
“We’re hoping that the water management branch will allow us to work on a design this fall, and raise funds and get people on board who want to donate, and then construction will actually be in very early September 2014,” Page told council.