The Williams Lake Indian Band continues to work towards restoring water to its water treatment plant after its water line was compromised by flood waters which overwhelmed Borland Creek and destroyed a section of Mission Road.
As the creek waters continued to strongly flow Thursday morning (April 30), Chief Willie Sellars remarked the creek looked more like a river as crews worked to attempt installing a temporary water line over the channel to reach the water treatment plant.
Behind the fast flowing waters and destroyed bridge, he pointed to the opposite side and said that is where the community’s wells are located which supply water to the treatment plant that then is directly delivered from the taps to the entire community.
He said two homes on that side have been without water since the floodwater damaged the water line as well as a natural gas line late last week. Thankfully, he said their partner Gordon’s Septic, Water and HydroVac has been supplying up to 10 loads of water per day to the community since April 25.
“We’re not going to be able to fix this water line until the water has subsided,” Sellars said noting they have been working with a variety of partners to divert the channel to get to the water line.
“It’s probably 10 feet deep when you look at the channel, so it’s just not feasible that we divert the water now so what we’re going to do is a recommendation from Lake Excavating, our joint venture construction partner, to put in a temporary line.”
Thankful for their partners and every community member that stepped up to volunteer, as well as ground crews who helped divert channels and save power lines, and the Ministry of Forests which provided firefighters to assist with sandbagging, Sellars said they prevented the situation from being an even bigger disaster than what it already is.
“I was just on a call with the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure on how we tackle not only the re-connection of our water services on a long-term basis but the reconstruction of the roadway, of the stream beds, and overflow and bridges and all these crazy things that happen in times of disaster,” he said. “That strategy is going to take weeks, that construction is going to take weeks. We get this interim solution in now it will give us some breathing room which is very encouraging.”
Sellars added the novel coronavirus is making the situation even more challenging.
“Practicing safe distances in these emergency situations it’s not easy, it’s very challenging to say the least. We got to give it to all the people that reacted.”
With a large amount of agencies involved in what will soon be the cleanup Sellars said he believes it will cost in the millions.
“As the water starts to subside you start to realize this is going to be a massive undertaking for anybody to do, and to reconstruct it so that if this ever happens again we won’t lose our water line. These times of disaster give you an opportunity to reconstruct and plan for the worst moving forward.”
With the band’s Indian Reserve No. 4 (Tillion Reserve) located at the mouth of Williams Lake Creek joining into the Fraser River, Sellars added the WLIB will be working with the City and Cariboo Regional District to rebuild the river valley.
“I think everybody is doing their best, everyone is working together, and trying to keep each other informed,” he said.
”It’s going to look a lot different after this is all said and done and worked out, but we’re weeks if not months away from that happening.”
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