Given a choice would Kaslo’s water users prefer to preserve the watershed that supplies the town with our water or spend another million dollars to extend the sewer system three blocks? This is a choice facing council and as usual the residents have not been consulted.
For over a century the Kemp Creek watershed has supplied problem-free gravity water until a forest fire raged uncontrolled in 2007 that caused the ground to become hydrophobic. This means that for a second time the water from an extreme rainfall didn’t get absorbed in the ground but ran down to scour the edges of Kemp and Josephine Creeks to damage the dam, road and water line.
Fortunately there is a solution available and that would be to plant mountain alder in the watershed but the trees need to be ordered by November for next spring’s planting season.
However it is unclear if the council is proceeding with needed repairs this year but instead may be considering a completely new and costly water system that utilizes electric pumps from Kootenay Lake. These however would be at risk should a forest fire burn the power lines between Kaslo and Balfour.
There is merit in restoring Kaslo’s water system and Mayor Hewat and her council should have some vision and approach Minister Doug Donaldson of the Ministry of Forests to lobby for some surplus funds that will be available from this year’s fire protection budget.
Instead they are pursuing funding from the Invest Canada Infrastructure Program that will pay 100 per cent of the costs for the sewer system expansion. Their priorities are wrong and we have no time to waste as next year will be too late when the federal, provincial and municipal governments start making up for the prolific spending this year.