Fairmont Creek uppermost debris traps. Photo courtesy RDEK.

Fairmont debris flow event ‘could have been catastrophic’

Debris flow mitigation measures from two years ago prevented a larger scale disaster

The debris flow in Fairmont last week was the second-largest in the community’s history, as crews continue a massive clean-up effort.

“The heavy rainfall on May 31 resulted in the second-largest debris flow in recorded history in Fairmont and an estimated 30,000m3 of logs, rock and other debris in our traps on Fairmont Creek and Cold Spring Creek,” said Brian Funk, the RDEK Engineering Services Manager. “This event is roughly half the size of the 2012 debris flow and could have been catastrophic had the new debris flow mitigation measures not been in place.”

As a result of the debris flow event, roads and culverts were over-topped with mud and water, basement and garage flooding in a few houses closest to the creek and roughly six properties with mud and water in their yards. The nearby resort also sustained impacts to the golf course and infrastructure.

Contractors on site have restored roughly 75 per cent of capacity on Cold Spring Creek debris trap and continued to work on the lower Cold Spring Creek debris trap, channel and culvert throughout last weekend.

On Fairmont Creek, crews removed logs and debris, restored the channel and finished a berm and grading above Campground Rd. and at Marble Canyon. Work also began on Hole 12 of the nearby golf course with the removal of excavated material throughout the weekend and will remain active in the area this week.

Crews are also at work to create access into the uppermost traps on Fairmont Creek and have begun the debris removal process. Additionally, crews also tackled a section of creek near Riverview where the armouring and erosion protection was destroyed in the flooding event.

“Our priority is to restore as much capacity within the creeks and the debris traps as possible so that we are ready if another event were to occur,” said Funke. “Having said that, we need residents to remain aware and prepared as both creek systems are still vulnerable to flooding, particularly now during the freshet season.”

A BC Wildfire Services crew was also on site, pre-filling roughly 1,000 sandbags on Friday afternoon to help community members proactively get sandbags in place. Sandbags can be found at the old barn at the Mountainside golf course and the pullout on the Columbia River Road north of the creek.

Two years ago, the RDEK completed a three-phase debris flow mitigation project on Fairmont Creek, which involved creating more capacity within the creek, along with debris traps to capture and hold debris in case of a flooding event.

“Although this isn’t the first test of the debris traps, it is certainly the most significant and the system did an incredible job of keeping the large debris away from homes and properties,” adds Funke. “While we never like to see any on-the-ground impacts, and we don’t want to minimize the impact on those affected property owners, this could have been so much worse.”

The total project cost for the Fairmont Creek Debris Flow Mitigation Project was just over $1.94 million. It was 92 per cent funded by Emergency Management BC, four per cent by Community Works Funds and four per cent by the community through the Fairmont Creek Flood & Debris Flow Control Service.

Earlier this year the RDEK received funding for a Debris Flood Mitigation Project on Cold Spring Creek. While that project has not yet started, the Board awarded the engineering contract to McElhaney at its May 29 Board Meeting.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Just Posted

From baseball stars to forest fires: Southeast Fire Centre water bomber has an interesting past

Tanker 489 is stationed in Castlegar this year, but in the 1960s it belonged to the L.A. Dodgers.

New tee pads installed at Wycliffe Disc Golf Course, new course built near Radium

Thanks to the tireless efforts of the East Kootenay Disc Golf Club… Continue reading

Kimberley paramedics share experiences working during COVID

Paramedics are among those workers who were unable to work from home… Continue reading

Ktunaxa elder leaves legacy of courage, resilience and mentorship

Herman Alpine helped Ktunaxa move on from Residential School era, was key in revitalization of language

Work set to begin on passing lane near Jaffray

The province says work will soon begin on a westbound passing lane… Continue reading

B.C. identifies 20 new COVID-19 cases, travellers specified in count

Pandemic total 3,028 cases, 51 people from outside Canada

B.C. residents can go to the Royal BC Museum for half price this summer

Museum reopening in phases, COVID-19 measures in place

Filing deadline in RCMP sexual-harassment class-action extended due to COVID-19

Plaintiffs now have until January 2021 to submit claims for up to $222,000

Jamie Bacon pleads guilty to charge in Surrey Six case

The plea brings an end to a complex legal case that has spanned more than a decade

Hefty undeclared driver charges piling up, ICBC warns customers

Average extra penalty $2,971 after an at-fault accident

Survey, hotline launched amid probe into racist blood-alcohol guessing game at B.C. hospital

Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond has been appointed to lead an investigation by Health Minister Adrian Dix

B.C. appeals judge’s decision to leave three clubhouses in Hells Angels hands

The province has filed two notices of appeal related to the B.C. Supreme Court decision

Conservation officers relocate Spirit bear known to roam northwestern B.C.

Bear roamed valley north of Terrace for many years

B.C. premier applauds call to decriminalize drug possession

Police shouldn’t struggle with health issues, Horgan says

Most Read