Irrigation Lake stakeholders are saving the lake and plan to exceed dam safety standards.
In June last year, stakeholders got a letter from the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, threatening to remove the dam and drain Irrigation Lake if the dam wasn’t upgraded and no water licence holder stepped forward.
Stakeholders met and organized last summer and hired an engineer to develop a plan.
Funded by a $10,000 donation from the Bulkley Valley Credit Union, Water Resources Engineer Carl Pentilchuk spent the winter drafting the plan.
Stakeholders ditched the idea of upgrading the old dam, opting for a new “gold standard” dam, said Steve Page, representative for Irrigation Lake stakeholders.
“We wanted to keep the water level high during construction and during the whole summer. Otherwise we would have had to drop the water level a lot for the entire summer and it would take a long time to refill up again, possibly more then even next spring.”
The cost is $80,000 without donations or volunteers, but Page says the dam will be stronger and it will minimize risk of dam failure.
The “Irrigation Lake stakeholders” are also taking on the water licence and liability for the dam, Page said. That group includes Rough Acres Bible Camp, Rock Nest Ranch, and the neighbours (Bells and Spooners).
“We’ve heard nothing from the District of Houston,” Page said.
Mayor Bill Holmberg said the District wouldn’t take part in bringing the dam to standard.
“We don’t have the money,” he said.
The stakeholder group is submitting their plan to the Ministry and if approved, they’ll begin construction early-September.
Their next challenge will be finding donations and volunteers for the dam construction.
“There will be a sluice gate, a culvert, and some concrete work and that will be more then stakeholders can handle, so we will be looking for donations and volunteers for those things,” Page said.
He added that they already have some people who are willing to donate and volunteer.
“We’re looking forward to working with those people,” he said.
Page thanks Ken Thompson who has helped by offering knowledge based on his experience in emergency preparedness and building dykes. He also thanks the Credit Union for supplying the engineering costs thus far.