In an effort to improve water quality of lakes, streams and wetlands in the Wilmer and Neave Creek watersheds, the Wilmer Waterworks Improvement District has agreed to relinquish their water rights to Neave Creek, which will then be re-diverted to its original channel.
The re-diversion will increase the flush rates of Lillian Lake, improving water quality in the surrounding areas.
“The main purpose of the project is to enhance the three lakes (Enid, Wilmer and Lillian) and various streams and wetlands, and to secure a stable water supply for the agricultural users,” says Peter Holmes, official habitat biologist for the area.
“It should result in improved habitats for fish, water fowl and other wildlife—it provides good long term stability of those water sources.”
A number of local groups have pitched in to support the project financially, including the Rod and Gun Club, the Columbia Valley Trust, the RDEK conservation fund, the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation, the Wilmer Waterworks Improvement District and the Toby Benches Society, all of whom have made some form of financial contribution.
Water quality has been diminishing in the area due to decreased water flows, as a result of climate trends and a now-unnecessary Boulder Creek Diversion Ditch.
Because the former ditch that carried water from Boulder to Wilmer Creek has fallen into disrepair and suffered from continual water loss, there has been reduced flow into Wilmer Creek and reduced water levels into Enid and Wilmer Lakes.
The first phase of the project involves installing pipe into the Boulder Creek Diversion Ditch, which was cleared over the summer.
Where the existing ditch intercepted smaller streams, new culverts were installed that will restore the smaller streams channels to where they used to flow over 100 years ago.
Once the pipe is installed, a diversion gate will be installed and a channel constructed on Neave Creek. The total volume of Neave Creek will not be diverted, as the organizations involved would like to maintain the wetlands downstream.
Work on the project has stalled due to the winter weather, and is not expected to resume until spring, with an expected completion date of fall 2012.