Tag Archives: providence dam

City of Greenwood won’t take over Providence Dam

At its last council meeting on July 9, the City of Greenwood decided not to take over responsibility of Providence Dam located at Marshall Lake.
Greenwood Mayor Nipper Kettle explained that the lake is not the city’s responsibility.
“We are not willing to take over ownership of the dam, there’s just too much risk involved and too much liability,” he said. “The ‘what ifs’ are just too great, especially when you look around now at what’s going on around British Columbia. It’s not the same, but it is a concern.”
Kettle is referring to the mudslide at Johnson’s Landing, as well as the mudslide near Fairmont Hot Springs Resort, north of Cranbrook.
Greenwood council made the unanimous decision prior to the July 13 deadline imposed by the Ministry of Forest, Lands and Natural Resource Operations.
“Personally I think the dam is safe, but it’s hard to say with what’s happening now,” said Kettle. “I do know that we can’t afford to take it on and it’s not our responsibility.”
Tara White, senior fisheries biologist for Fish and Wildlife Section of the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations out of Penticton, stated that the removal of the dam was the ministry’s first option.
“We’re currently conducting a feasibility analysis of the costs and logistics, design options and timeline schedules to decommission the dam,” she said. “When the feasibility analysis is complete, there will be considerations to look at.”
White pointed out items could include where the dam should be breached, to what level, where the best spot would be, and the implications to the landowners. The Fisheries and Wildlife Section only owns the lake and not the surrounding property.
“After the feasibility study is concluded, we will be consulting with adjacent landowners for potential impacts and that their concerns are
addressed,” said White. “The feasibility study should be done within the month.”
Christopher Stevenson the founder and organizer of the Marshall Lake Stewardship Society, said, “At this point we have to wait and see what steps the Ministry will take.”
He added, “At a certain point we are going to have to make a decision and say, are we going to allow them to go in with excavators to take it out or are we going to do something about it?”
Stevenson noted the stewardship society is looking at several possible appeals, including the loss of property value. He recently found a separate case study surrounding this issue that describes an aspect of the situation he believes the ministry hasn’t taken into consideration.
“As soon as they do something to this lake and make their lakeshore into mud, their property value will spiral down,” he pointed out. “The ministry will have to compensate them.”
Diane Gottselig, the property owner, who has a cabin located near the lake, wrote a post on the stewardship society’s Facebook page stating the low water levels over the past few summers have made it difficult for them to access their cabin.
“We have to walk across a huge ditch with over a foot of water in it,” she wrote. “We have not been contacted with plans for how we will be able to access our property this summer. The property was bought with the certificate stating lakeshore property.”
She noted that should the lake be reduce to its original state, all that would be left is weeds and mud on their side of the lake.
“This will make it unable for us to swim, use the beach and just generally difficult to enjoy the property,” Gottselig said. “We use the property very frequently and have a lot of family and friends who enjoy it with us.”
Gottselig is also concerned about how the reduced lake size would affect the animals that use or live there.
In less than a week, the stewardship society has collected more than 800 signatures for a petition. The signed petitions were delivered to the Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations Minister Steve Thompson, while the online petition will be forwarded to Premier Christy Clark.
“The feasibility study should be done within the month.”
Christopher Stevenson, the founder and organizer of the Marshall Lake Stewardship Society, said, “At this point we have to wait and see what steps the ministry will take.”
He added, “At a certain point we are going to have to make a decision and say, are we going to allow them to go in with excavators to take it out or are we going to do something about it?”
Stevenson noted the stewardship society is looking at several possible appeals, including the loss of property value. He recently found a separate case study surrounding this issue that describes an aspect of the situation he believes the ministry hasn’t taken into consideration.
“As soon as they do something to this lake and make their lakeshore into mud, their property value will spiral down,” he pointed out. “The ministry will have to compensate them.”
Diane Gottselig, the property owner who has a cabin located near the lake, wrote a post on the stewardship society’s Facebook page stating the low water levels over the past few summers have made it difficult for them to access their cabin.
“We have to walk across a huge ditch with over a foot of water in it,” she wrote. “We have not been contacted with plans for how we will be able to access our property this summer. The property was bought with the certificate stating lakeshore property.” She noted that should the lake be reduce to its original state, all that would be left is weeds and mud on their side of the lake.
“This will make it unable for us to swim, use the beach and just generally difficult to enjoy the property,” Gottselig said. “We use the property very frequently and have a lot of family and friends who enjoy it with us.”
Gottselig is also concerned about how the reduced lake size would affect the animals that use the lake or live there.
In less than a week, the stewardship society has collected more than 800 signatures for a petition. The signed petitions were delivered to the Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations Minister Steve Thompson, while the online petition will be forwarded to Premier Christy Clark.

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City of Greenwood given extension by province

The City of Greenwood has been given an extension (until July 13) to decide on whether or not it takes over responsibility for Providence (Marshall) Lake Dam.
The provincial government previously told Greenwood that they had to decide by the end of June.
“The province extended the deadline to July 13, and agreed to provide $50,000 towards upgrading or decommissioning,” explained Christopher Stevenson, a former Greenwood city councilor and leader of a group aiming to preserve the lake. “They’ve consistently said that they estimated a $70,000 cost to decommission. We’re pushing now for (the government) to complete the maintenance and bring the dam up to dam safety standards.”
Stevenson, who recently created an online group called the Marshall Lake Stewardship Group, to bring awareness to the issue, noted the province is also pushing costs to the city.
“They’re effectively passing costs on to us –  costs for maintenance and repairs that they have not done, and are required to do, and we are expected to cover the costs of their neglect,” he said. “Give us a dam that meets safety standards.”
Brennan Clarke, public affairs officer for Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resources, noted that the City of Greenwood was given a year to determine the feasibility of (the city) assuming responsibility for the dam in January 2011.
“The Providence Dam is classified as a high-consequence dam that would cause substantial economic and environmental damage and, potentially, loss of life in the event of a failure,” Clarke stated. “Providence Dam does not currently meet Provincial Dam Safety Regulations or Canadian Dam Association Standards. A dam safety review of Providence Dam, stemming from the Deputy Solicitor General’s report that followed the 2010 Testalinden Dam failure, identified a number of management concerns.”
The inspection occurred after the Testalinden dam incident near Oliver, B.C. in June 2010. The incident resulted in a debris and mud torrent that damaged a number of homes and agricultural areas.
Clarke pointed out that while the province has agreed to the extension, should it receive no response by July 13, the province will start plans to de-activate the dam.

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Deadline looms for Providence Dam

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The City of Greenwood has to decide whether or not to take over maintenance and liability of the Providence (Marshall) Lake Dam from the province of British Columbia by the end of June.
Discussions about the fate of the dam between the city and the province began in October 2010, after the Providence Dam was flagged as “high risk” in a provincial dam inspection report. The province noted that unless local government or a public body decides to step up, the dam will be decommissioned and the drain would have the lake back to its original size.If decommissioned, the lake would drain along Providence Creek and enter the north end of the city before entering Boundary Creek. The Okanagan Fisheries Section of the Ministry of Environment currently maintains Providence Dam.
Chris Stevenson recently created an online group called the Marshall Lake Stewardship Group to bring awareness to the issue.

“This group was created to achieve one goal – to preserve Marshall Lake,” he said. “The Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resources has the licence for the dam and since the Testalinden (mudslide in Oliver, B.C. in 2010), the Fish and Wildlife dept. has been working to transfer the licence, or decommission the dam. I believe that this lake is worth saving and I know that other people feel the same way.”
Marshall Lake is located in the Boundary Region between Grand Forks and Greenwood. The rock filled dam has increased the natural size of the lake from 2.64 to 6.5 surface hectares.

“It doesn’t have to be the City of Greenwood, it could be the public,” Stevenson said. “The letter (from Tara White, senior fi sheries biologist for the Ministry of Forest, Lands and Natural Resources) that went out said that option one was to keep status quo and to keep it with the government, option two was for it to go to the local government or public and option three was to decommission the dam.”
White pointed out in her letter, that “the Okanagan Fish and Wildlife Program doesn’t have the staff capacity or resources to maintain the dam and conduct annual repairs.”

Stevenson, a former city councillor, noted that the issue fell off Greenwood city council’s radar with the switch in council during the 2011 election, though he has been trying to raise awareness through social media and is trying to form a society or co-op.
“I’m thinking we can do a co-op where everybody will purchase a share, so for $25 you can own part of the lake,” he noted. “There are creative ways to do this that require grassroots, broad base support.”
Stevenson noted that while the City of Greenwood is interested in maintaining the lake, the upkeep of the lake won’t work with just the city alone.
“We need to start to think about environment stewardship in this region because this isn’t the only thing that has come up or will come up,” he said. “If we don’t act right now we’re going to lose it and it’s never going to be there again. We don’t have very many lakes here and it’s doable if a committed group of people get together.”
At last Monday’s Greenwood city council meeting, Mayor Nipper Kettle noted that city council passed a motion that they agree in principle but they will defer the decision.
“City staff has recommended that we not proceed,” Kettle said. “But that doesn’t mean you always go with the recommendation. We will be asking the government for an extension in the deadline. It’s a very tough situation because obviously the ministry/government would like to get rid of it.”
The mayor pointed out that the dam has been there for a long time and will be there for more years to come.
“Ultimately it boils down to risk and risk management and liability,” Kettle said. “I don’t know if I would want to strap the citizens of Greenwood with the possibility of anything catastrophic ever happening. It’s a beautiful site with camping and picnic tables, it will still be there but it’ll be much smaller.”
Marshall Lake has a recreational value with its campgrounds and picnic tables, Kettle pointed out.
“We’re looking at ways to keep it, but we do have to have a decision to make soon,” he concluded, noting that Marshall Lake is located in the regional district of Area D.
RDKB Area D director Irene Perepolkin has declined the possibility of taking liability of the lake.
“We don’t know what the liability is of the cost of bringing it up to standard,” she explained. “The (government) gave an estimate of about $135,000 to $400,000 just to bring it back up to standards before we could even get liability insurance on it. I’m not interested on taking on the cost for Area D.”

Perepolkin pointed out that there isn’t a sufficient number of her residents who use the area during the summer time.

“They do use it for cross-country skiing during the winter quite a bit, but the level of the water isn’t prohibited for that,” she added. “The lake isn’t going to completely disappear, but the water levels will be lowered to what they originally were if (the government) does decommission it.”
If a group was to be formed, Perepolkin said, “Area D wouldn’t mind helping maintain the lake but we wouldn’t want to have any stake hold in it. It’s not something my area is willing to support at this time.”
The Providence inspection occurred after the Testalinden dam incident near Oliver, B.C. in June 2010. The incident resulted in a debris and mud torrent that damaged a number of homes and agricultural areas.

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