The City of Revelstoke has completed a draft of the Greeley Creek Watershed Source Protection Plan – a report that outlines the process and steps needed to better protect the city’s water source. Residents are invited to a May 15 open house to explore the report and plans for further protecting our drinking water supply.
The technical, comprehensive study and resulting report was required by provincial authorities. It studies and inventories what’s happening in the watershed located behind Mount Mackenzie, and lays the groundwork for future planning around the watershed.
City of Revelstoke Environmental Sustainability Coordinator Penny Page-Brittin worked on the report, which was prepared by contractor Golder Associates.
“We’re fortunate that very little is happening in our watershed,” Page-Brittin told the Times Review. Unlike other jurisdictions, it has several positives going for it. It’s completely in Crown land, for example.
Page-Brittin said a key positive result of the study is the creation of more accurate maps of the watershed area. The new maps provide much more detailed information about exactly what’s located in the watershed, including the creeks that feed into Greeley Creek, and the past and present human activity in the area that stretches behind Mount Mackenzie to the north side of Ghost Peak.
The report outlines several threats to the city’s water supply.
‘Mass movements’ (landslides) are considered a very high risk. Stream channel instability and climate change are considered high risks. Wildfire and avalanches are moderate risks.
Although a massive landslide could cause a disruption of the water source, Revelstoke does have the luxury of an alternate water source in the form of a well located near the Revelstoke Golf Club.
Although there’s potential for resource activity in the Greeley area, it’s considered a moderate risk and steps may be prepared to prevent it. However, recreational activity in the area is considered a high risk; the report lists snowmobiling, hiking, mountain biking, ATVs, motorcycles and camping as examples.
“It’s about the source protection plan,” Page-Brittin said. “Very little is going on in there, but it’s important to understand what could be happening in there. The report lets us know what could happen, and how to prepare for that.”
The report also looks forward at climate change scenarios. Jeff Zukiwsky from the Communities Adapting to Climate Change program will be at the May 15 open house, where he’ll explore climate change issues as it relates to the watershed. He’ll be joined by consultants from Golder Associates who prepared the report.
The mandatory report cost $30,000. The city paid $20,000 while the Columbia Basin Trust covered $10,000.
However, the costs associated with protecting the water source likely won’t stop there. When the report was presented to Revelstoke City Council on April 23, some councillors expressed concern about the costs associated with a list of recommended actions contained in the report.
“There will be some extraordinary costs involved,” noted city councillor Phil Welock.
This list included flow monitoring programs, new access restrictions to the area, stability monitoring programs and applying for a ‘no staking’ reserve that would limit resource extraction activity in the watershed.
Page-Brittin encouraged residents to come to the open house at the Revelstoke Community Centre on May 15 from 4-8 p.m. “We take for granted that we turn on our taps and there’s water,” she said. “We’re moving to ensure that it’s protected. [Residents] can see some really interesting maps and see about projected climate change for this area.”
Here is the complete Greeley Creek Watershed Source Protection Plan draft: