The City of Quesnel has already spent about $200,000 to respond to flooding and related issues along Baker Creek in West Quesnel, but ongoing repair and maintenance work will push those costs much higher.
High water levels and fast-flowing water in Baker Creek caused water and sewer line damage and erosion along the banks of the West Quesnel creek in late April, prompting the City of Quesnel to order a stage of local emergency.
Councillors heard an update on the costs associated with the Baker Creek flooding during budget discussions at the May 5 electronic council meeting.
“As far as Baker Creek is concerned, I have to say it’s actually quite early in the day to say what our final costs are on that yet; however, the response costs to date are about $200,000 of spending,” said City Manager Byron Johnson.
Of that, $100,000 is for the rip-rap program to armour Baker Creek, while the City also spent $45,000 to repair the water main, $5,000 for a geotechnical review of one or two properties there and $50,000 of other expenditures, including pulling the sweeps out of the river right at the bridge, running pumper trucks to handle some of the sewage when the line was down, explained Johnson.
The City is currently renting a temporary sewer line and is dealing with the costs of maintaining and operating that temporary line.
Johnson says the rental of that line, which is about 1.5 kilometres and a large pump, is about $30,000 a month. In addition to that, the other ongoing monthly expense is security for that line. The security maintains a presence at the pump station itself so no one goes in there, and they can also make sure the pump doesn’t shut down, explained Johnson. They are also doing tours of the actual pipe, which runs right along the road side and is fairly vulnerable. This security costs the City $30,000 a month. “That’s on a going-forward basis, but we don’t know what that end date is yet,” said Johnson. “That end date is going to depend on the solution we come up with, and that’s going to be the very expensive part of this whole process. So there are going to be two very expensive pieces left.”
Johnson says about 200 metres of sewer line actually went into Baker Creek, and that will need to be replaced. Where it was sitting was washed out, so he says the odds are the City will have to relocate that line to get it functional again. Engineers are looking at this right now and coming up with options, but Johnson says the City’s director of infrastructure and capital works, Chris Coben, felt the solution would likely be $1 million or more and could quite easily be $2 million or higher.
Johnson says the other big expenditure moving forward is that parts of Baker Creek still need to be rip-rapped, and particularly where there was the significant washout just below Hutchcroft is still a vulnerable section of the creek. Engineers are looking at possible solutions, and the cost of this work is not known yet, but Johnson says it will be “a very significant expenditure.”
“The creek goes around a corner at that point, so it will continually eat out that bank as soon as it gets high right until such time as we get it protected properly,” he said. “That’s going to be a very large expenditure; it’s going to require probably some road building at the bottom and then rip-rapping as we go and dumping loads in and backing further onto the loads and dumping more.”
At this time, Johnson says they are unsure if federal disaster financial assistance funding is going to come through and cover those costs.
“Even if they cover the funding, they cover up to 80 per cent of the total, so the City is liable for 20 per cent, and that is 20 per cent of two very large projects, so our share could quite easily be $500,000 or more,” said Johnson. “We will bring more information back to council when we have it, but that’s what our preliminary look tells us right now.”