LETTER: An innovative way to access water in a wildfire

From reader Steve Bareham

Summer in the West Kootenay used to be a time of eager anticipation: sunny days to relax, barbecue and kick back outdoors for the scant few weeks that sandwich between the moisture common to spring and fall. It’s still hot, but tough to enjoy through the smoke and nervousness about the omnipresent wildfire threat.

We can’t stop climate change quickly (Mother Nature’s not happy), but Nelson’s city administration may be able to buy/install an effective wildfire suppression system around the city. A B.C. company called Safeguard has designed a “water curtain” pump system with water cannons that can stretch 20 kilometres. Water dampens the forest floor so lightning strikes lack tinder-dry fuel but can also fight approaching flames. See article link to details: https://tinyurl.com/efk299xx.

I’m not promoting a company here, no connection whatsoever, but do wish to get intelligent, creative minds thinking about how to effectively get a lot of water, when needed, from the lake to the forest that surrounds us. This would cost a lot! But, it would be proactive and cheaper than having a Lytton scenario in a city of 10,000. As a taxpayer, I’ll gladly ante up for something like this. It’s a serious drag going to bed every night wondering when the inevitable lightning storm will come. Who wants to face evacuation?

Clearing forest floor fuel and cutting fire guards is important, but it’s always water that extinguishes fires (rain or fire fighters). We have a lake, and pumps exist to get water high enough. And irrigation-style water lines can power 360-degree water cannons.

Maybe a concept like this should top the budget priority list. Borrow money, take a referendum for a special tax levy, whatever. Seeing our city burn because people don’t like a short-term tax hike seems imprudent. Some things are worth it. Period.

Steve Bareham