While it appears the worst is over in Wasa, residents are still facing the unwelcome prospect of a major clean-up in the weeks to come.
“We’re just monitoring to see when the levels are reduced down to lake level and are not affecting any homes and then we can move forward with clean up,” Regional District of East Kootenay emergency services coordinator Carol Lind said.
Starting in late June, Wasa was one of the hardest areas hit by a period of heavy rainfall combined with spring runoff from the mountains. On July 12, Wasa was approved for disaster financial assistance from the Province. Lind said over 40,000 sandbags were delivered to the area, located about an hour and a half south of Invermere, to attempt to aid 17 residences. Only one family was forced to evacuate during that time — an elderly couple with access concerns — however, they were provided with emergency social service by the RDEK for a period of time, and have since returned home.
Currently, water levels are dropping at a rate of about six inches per week, but Lind cautions that with constantly changing weather it is unknown when the lake will recede to normal levels.
“So far it has been decreasing steadily, so that’s a positive,” Lind said. “However, with forecasts of rain we don’t know what that will do to the lake levels, as it depends on how much [rain] we get.”
Once water levels recede to acceptable levels, the RDEK will remove the sandbags, while property owners will be responsible for removing any left over sediment on their property.
The RDEK is also still asking for no boat traffic on Wasa Lake as some residences are still affected, however this request is operating on a week-to-week basis.