More watershed issues brewing in Kimberley

Proposed cut blocks above the reservoir concern council

What is sure to be an interesting discussion on watersheds should be coming up at Council’s regular meeting next week, which will be held Tuesday night instead of the regular Monday because of the BC Family Day holiday.

The issue is more proposed logging in the Mark Creek watershed.

Manager of Operations and Environment Services Mike Fox has recommended to Council in a report that they send a letter of opposition to BC Timber Sales plans for more cutting in the watershed. Fox is especially concerned about proposed cutblocks and a road directly above the Mark Creek reservoir. Council discussed the report at their Committee of the Whole meeting last week.

“The Manager of Operations & Environment Services is in receipt of a letter dated January 25, 2016, from BCTS proposing new cut blocks; however, this letter did not include three cut blocks which were submitted to the Province and which will negatively affect the Mark Creek watershed and water supply to the residents of Kimberley,” the report says. “These three cut blocks which are located above the Mark Creek Reservoir and drain directly into the reservoir were not referred to the Mark Creek Watershed Committee prior to being submitted to the Province. There are an additional two cut blocks located above these three cut blocks bringing the total to five cut blocks located directly above the City’s reservoir. This area has always been considered high risk due to the proximity to the reservoir. The water entering the reservoir is not monitored because it enters below the City’s remote monitoring system.

“Removing the timber in these locations will create a water quality situation for the City’s water supply particularly during freshet. If this harvesting is carried out there are possible turbidity issues, access issues and water retention issues. This potential for higher turbidity creates hardship for residents, schools, businesses and restaurants and results directly from logging in the watershed.

“The proposed road follows a road that currently is in use by people to access the Watershed from the Houle Creek Watershed area.

“The access has been cut off by the City by blocking one access road into this area but with increased logging and roads on this side of Mark Creek, there is a possibility of increased access by recreational vehicles.

“The City has not needed to install a water filtration system given the good quality of our drinking water; however, if the natural filtration that occurs in our watershed continues to be disturbed by logging it is a distinct possibility that a water filtration plant will be required in order to ensure the quality of our drinking water remains in the appropriate range.”

Any increased turbidity will mean more boil water advisories. Fox advises that Council challenge the idea that somehow turbidity over 1 NTU is a health risk.

“The reporting done in the 2014 Mark Matthew Creek Water Quality Annual Report clearly indicates that there is no relationship between bacteria and turbidity. The idea that filtration is required if water goes over 1 NTU for more than two days per year is not supported by scientific evidence. Dr. Nick Ashbolt at the University of Alberta who is a world expert in drinking water and microbial risk agrees that scientific backing is terribly lacking. The standard used to be 5 NTU and the limit was arbitrarily changed.”

The development proposal for BC Timber Sales in the Mark Creek Watershed is open for review now until March 25.