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Gold Creek dam replacement project ongoing as city continues to seek grant funding


Cranbrook city staff are continuing to make progress on design work and preparation for the replacement of the Gold Creek Dam, as efforts continue to secure grant funding from senior levels of government.

The dam’s replacement has been identified as a growing priority in recent years, as staff have preparing reports submitted to the Provincial Dam Safety Branch for review and approval before construction can begin.

In the latest update presented to city council on Monday, March 25, staff noted that approximately $600,000 has been spent so far on design approvals such as geotechnical engineering and environmental assessments, with the projected capital cost expected to reach $14 million.

The city pulls water supply from the Joseph Creek and Gold Creek watersheds.

According to a staff report from September 2023, the city has first water rights to Gold Creek, with a water license that allows up to 13,402 megalitres per year (2,948 million imperial gallons per year).

Additionally, the city has third water rights to Joseph Creek, with a water license that allows 15,607 megalitres per year (3,433 million imperial gallons per year) and up to 44 megalitres per day (9.68 million imperial gallons per day).

The city cannot take any more water from Joseph Creek due to minimum flow requirements and because two water license holders have higher water rights ahead of the city.

That means water from Gold Creek is regularly added into Joseph Creek at a diversion facility to supplement supply and meet minimum flow requirements during low flows.

The Gold Creek Dam was first built in 1912 to take water from Gold Creek to the then-Joseph Creek Dam, which is now the Idlewild Dam, using a combination of pipes and an open ditch structures. While the site has undergone upgrades over the years, the dam itself has never been reconstructed.

The dam has a capacity of approximately 30 megalitres, but is in its current state only holds one or two megalitres due to build up of sedimentation.

Once the new dam structure is completed, it will have capacity of up to 200 megalitres.

“It’s a significant increase, in that it would allow us to maximize the operation and the use of the water that we’re allowed to take from Gold Creek, which we are definitely not using to it’s full potential with the water license we have,” said Curtis Mummery, Manager of Roads and Infrastructure, during discussions with city council on Monday, March 25.

Meanwhile, city staff are continuing to pursue grant funding from senior levels of government, through a letter on behalf of mayor and council that will be sent to the provincial and federal governments.

Staff noted that the city has spent over $1 million in planning and asset management for the municipal water supply infrastructure, and that the city recently won an award from Asset Management BC recognizing it’s work on water supply.

“We implore the provincial and federal governments to step up and recognize the monumental risks our community is facing and recognize the immense investment we have made to plan and prepare for these risks by providing infrastructure funding for this critical water supply asset,” writes Mayor Wayne Price, in a letter that will be sent to provincial and federal ministers, as well as to local MLA and MP offices.

The city was unsuccessful after applying for a grant in 2020, but have yet to secure additional funding from the province or the federal government. While the project is in the five-year financial plan to be funded through grants or borrowing, staff are forging ahead with the project in hopes to make it as shovel-ready as possible to attract and secure any potential grant funding.

Trevor Crawley

About the Author: Trevor Crawley

Trevor Crawley has been a reporter with the Cranbrook Townsman and Black Press in various roles since 2011.
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