A compromised power pole that normally supplies electricity to Williams Lake’s sewage treatment lagoons in the river valley is being repaired, in anticipation of restoring power to the area.
“That’s our good news for today,” Milo MacDonald, the City’s chief administrative officer (CAO) told the Tribune Thursday.
The power line, which extends from the top of the escarpment down into the valley, provides power to the grit removal plant which also provides all of the aeration for the lagoons, an important part of managing the stream, MacDonald said.
“There is substantial damage around the infrastructure and pipes around the grit removal building and we are assessing what impacts that damage is having.”
Crews continue to haul rip-rap into the site, but the severed sewer pipe has not been repaired yet.
“We’ve got access to it, but will require the water in the creek to subside quite a bit before we can repair that pipe,” MacDonald said, noting an engineering assessment is also being done to give the City a road map on what work will be required going forward.
Initially the breach was much smaller and the culvert was still intact, but now the area has blown open 60 to 70 feet wide and it’s a ‘completely different’ situation, he added.
Overnight Wednesday, the lake’s water level dropped another two and a half inches and when MacDonald took a helicopter ride Wednesday he noticed it was obvious the flow rates were lower.
While there was still erosion taking place in the river valley it wasn’t as aggressive as when the flow was at its peak.
The City has confirmed the flow rate reached a one-in-two hundred year level earlier this week.
Efforts in the river valley are gaining more traction as crews work ‘feverishly’ to make sure that vulnerable areas are armoured and protected as much as possible and no more infrastructure is lost.
“One of the things that was obvious in our flyover yesterday is just how much of that main discharge line is exposed and will have to be reburied, relocated and inspected,” MacDonald said.
It will be a long process, he added, noting 14 of 17 bridges are damaged in one way or another.
“The main reason we are continuing to ask residents to restrict water use is to reduce the amount of untreated sewage going into the system. We understand that some use is inevitable, we are just hoping people will moderate their use a bit.”
He said he’s heard of some residents being innovative and pouring dishwater or bathwater into their gardens.
“People have really been very understanding,” he added.
MacDonald said he spoke with Williams Lake Indian Band CAO Aaron Mannella Wednesday and the city’s director of municipal services, Gary Muraca, has invited Manella and Chief Willie Sellars to tour the area Friday so that WLIB can start doing its own assessment.
WLIB has a nine-acre parcel of reserve land — Tillion IR4 – where the Williams Lake Creek enters the Fraser River.
The seven-day state of local emergency implemented last Friday, April 24 expires on Friday, May 1 at noon, but the City intends to extend it for another seven days.
Evacuation orders for 11 properties in the industrial area along Frizzi Road remain in place and as well as evacuation alerts for residents in Green Acres Mobile Home Park.