Work to divert the Williams Lake River away from the slopes and closer to the lagoons is underway as repairs to flood damage continues in the river valley. (Gary Muraca photo)

Williams Lake river valley flood recovery first phase could cost $2.6 million

That is in addition to the $8.9 million covered by province for emergency response

Ongoing flooding remediation in the Williams Lake river valley has forced the City to juggle its sanitary sewer account to help pay for future repairs.

During a special meeting held Tuesday, July 28, city council approved allocating $530,000 from the sanitary sewer account to go toward a $2.6 million recovery plan and directed staff to apply for disaster financial assistance from the province and pursue other grants.

In April the Williams Lake River reached 200-year flow rates, damaging roads, sewer infrastructure, bridges and archaeological sites.

The province, through Emergency Management B.C. (EMBC), has already covered $8.9 million for the emergency response, said director of planning and development Hasib Nadvi.

Read more: VIDEO: Williams Lake river valley emergency response $7.5 million price tag so far

So far temporary bridges have been installed to gain access to do repairs, but the City is now looking at longterm repairs, he added.

“As you can imagine, there are parts where the river was 22 feet wide before and now it’s 40 to 45 feet wide.”

During the recovery phase EMBC will cover 80 per cent of the $2.6 million costs and the Nadvi said the City anticipates there will be a second phase to the recovery plan which will cost another $2 million.

Gary Muraca, director of municipal services, said Thursday contractors were working on the 11th bridge and there are three left to repair.

Crews are also working on diverting the river around the lagoons to get the stream away from the vulnerable slope that caused all the issues during the flooding, Muraca said.

“We’ve been working with a fish habitat biologist and stream diversion engineer to create the best path to make sure we are doing everything based on best environmental practices.”

The emergency work should be completed in six to eight weeks, Muraca confirmed.

Two weeks ago the Williams Lake River started to rise again and reached 50-year flow rates.

“It is starting to go down now, but I would say the level of Williams Lake is a foot to a foot and half higher than normal based on last week’s measurements.”

Levels are starting to go down, and the Williams Lake River is receding, but at this time of year it would normally be a ‘trickle,’ Muraca said, adding the river is still three to four feet deep in some places.

Presently there are stacks of piping reels at the river valley parking lot off Mackenzie Avenue that would be used if there was an emergency break in the discharge line to pump from a manhole and go over land to the Fraser River in a short period of time.

It’s a contingency plan that would avoid discharging treated effluent into Williams Lake River when flows are lower and risk to fish and habitat are a potential concern, Muraca said.

Read more: River valley flooding destroys archaeological sites, uncovers others

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