Groundwater not an adequate source for Windermere

Windermere’s water woes won’t be quenched by a groundwater source, according to a recent study.

Windermere’s water woes won’t be quenched by a groundwater source, according to a recent study.

The Regional District of East Kootenay (RDEK) board of directors received a memo at their most recent meeting indicating there likely is not enough groundwater in Windermere to supply a public water system.

As part of the RDEK’s efforts to see if a groundwater source is an option to solve Windermere’s water problems,  Piteau Engineering Associates Ltd. drilled a test well and conducted a groundwater analysis. A memo on the lack of water found was sent to the RDEK directors for their April 10th meeting.

“Essentially no groundwater was encountered. A community as large as Windermere would need more than one, I would say at least a few, productive wells,” said RDEK engineering services manager Brian Funke, adding there was some moisture in the well, but no actual water, and that to be considered productive a well must have a flow of 126 litres per second.

“There’s only a really slim chance for using groundwater (for a public water system in Windermere),” said Funke. “Another concern indicating there is little to no groundwater was the nature of the soils.”

The soil at the deeper part of the well — where it matters most — was almost exclusively fine grained clay and silt, instead of gravel (which is more likely to indicating groundwater).

The RDEK is also continuing to move ahead with constructing a new water reservoir for Windermere, which will be in addition to the current existing reservoir.

“The old (reservoir) there doesn’t have the capacity to meet the standards required for fire protection flows within Windermere,” Funke explained.

The new reservoir won’t solve the longterm Windermere water issue, but the additional capacity it provides is necessary no matter which longterm solution is eventually chosen.

There is no cost estimate for the new reservoir yet, since the project is still in its preliminary stages, according to Funke. Once the design is finalized, the project can be put out to tender and a price for it established.

Work is expected to start later this summer. Funding for the project will come from the Build Canada Fund.

Spur Valley’s new well system a go

In the meantime, the Spur Valley subdivision’s well development project also continues to move ahead. The RDEK board of directors has voted to award the contract for the work to Border Holdings Ltd. Construction, which will begin in a few weeks and likely wrap up by October.

“This project involves finishing up the development of the groundwater well systems. It’s already drilled. Now, it’s a matter of tying into the Spur Valley distribution system,” said Funke.

The old water system in Spur Valley that’s being replaced is a surface water system, taking water from a creek.

“Certainly it (the new system) will help to improve the water quality,” said Funke, adding groundwater is almost always a safer source than surface water.

The Spur Valley water system improvements, which have been in the works

for several years, will also include a new meter vault and a pumphouse, entailing a move to universal water metering for the subdivision’s roughly 75 homes.

Total cost for the project — including the construction contract awarded to Border Holdings Ltd., the engineering service and the water meter installation — will be roughly $1 million. The majority of the funding for the new Spur Valley water system will come from the B.C. Community Water Improvement Program, with the rest being raised through service area taxes.