The City of Salmon Arm is seeking federal grant funding to support a study that would look at alternative drinking water options other than Metford Dam, which can supply up to 20 per cent of the city’s drinking water. (Google maps image)

Salmon Arm seeks grant to study alternative water sources

Review of options encouraged in case of catastrophic incident involving Shuswap Lake

The city is pursuing grant funding to identify reliable alternative water sources should Shuswap Lake become compromised.

City of Salmon Arm staff received the go-ahead from council to pursue federal infrastructure funding up to $10,000 for a secondary water source study, something city engineering and public works director Rob Niewenhuizen said is being encouraged by Interior Health.

Currently, Shuswap Lake serves as the city’s main source of drinking water, with Metford Dam in South Canoe acting as a secondary source.

“We do have a bit of vulnerability with the lake,” Niewenhuizen told council. “If there was a spill of some sort, it would basically shut off our water source. So we do have Metford Dam – it is a good source of water, but it doesn’t supply the entire community, it’s not a complete backup, but it’s a very important part of our infrastructure.”

Annually, the dam provides approximately 20 per cent of the city’s drinking water.

Related: City water reservoirs too low

In a report to council, Niewenhuizen explains the dam “is not reliable as flows do not meet city demand and are at times over the turbidity limit.”

“The reservoir itself is very limited on its use,” said Niewenhuizen. “In fact, when we have run-off we have to turn the supply off because there’s high turbidity in the water. Therefore, we can only use it during certain times of the year, but it does add as a secondary source.”

With the study, Niewenhuizen suggested the city would primarily be looking at groundwater options, noting there are quite a few communities that supplement their water service with groundwater.

The study is estimated to cost $30,000, with the city funding the additional $20,000 if the grant application is successful.

Related: Interior Health launches water advisory map

Prior to approving the grant application, council OK’d a budget amendment relating to Metford Dam toe berm project, where funds were reallocated to provide the $75,000 needed to deal with unexpected supply of related materials.

“During the reconstruction of the berm that holds back the Metford Dam… we had to take the area that the waters discharge from and move it farther and reconstruct the actual berm,” explained Niewenhuizen. “During that process, a geotechnical study had identified that a majority of the materials would be reusable, but when we actually got down to construction, that material was unsuitable for reusing. It had to be hauled away and new material had to be brought in. So this is basically to cover that over-expenditure….”

One of the reallocations was $13,000 for a Metford Dam flood inundation study, a project Niewenhuizen said would be coming back to council for the 2019 budget.


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