Initial work at Idlewild involved the the installation of a new bypass pipe and sediment control pond.

Initial work at Idlewild involved the the installation of a new bypass pipe and sediment control pond.

Idlewild work reprised – 103 years later

"Useful work was completed by the City Engineer," in 1913. Now that work is being done again. Everything old is new again, or will be.

Barry Coulter

“Useful work was completed by the City Engineer,” in 1913. Now that useful work is being done again. Everything old is new again, as they say.

On Friday, August 5, 2016, the first phase of an immense job of work began at Idlewild Lake, already drawn down. The dam, reservoir and what became a surrounding park will undergo a rejuvenation. The original dam and spillway itself will be subject to a complete refit. The reservoir will be dredged and filled up again. And then, the forested environs will be transformed into the best park it can be, according to the wishes of the populace.

On Friday, Barrie Mackay Contracting Ltd. began work on the south side of the reservoir with the installation of a new bypass pipe for the creek and a large containment area for the accumulated silt to be held. This was exactly the same job which was done — to much satisfaction all ’round — 103 years ago.

In 1913, the “Prospector” newspaper kept us in the know.

Back in 1913, the City Engineer has certain obstacles to overcome, the newspaper reported. First was the keeping up of a continuous supply of water for domestic purposes, as well as a pressure supply for fire requirements.

The City Engineer had a temporary dam built, just above the reservoir, where the waters of Joseph Creek entered. He also had an 18-inch pipe laid from the intake of the regular water mains to the temporary dam. The Prospector remarked that this operation was carefully and successfully done.

Repairing the dam thus began. The dam face was covered with two-and-a-half-inch sheathing, which was thoroughly caulked, then covered with sheet iron, soldered at every point to prevent water from percolating on through the dam.

After the dam and spillway had been prepared, it was found that a very heavy sediment had collected in the reservoir — three feet to three-and-a-half feet deep. The silt — some 2,000 tons — was removed.

A camp was established for the workmen, and the weather most favourable, back in the summer of ’15. The mains were flushed out, and the people of Cranbrook rejoiced in the new purity of their water, and the increased pressure for firefighting purposes.

The Prospector offered congratulations to Mayor and Council — and announced that the water of Cranbrook was second to none in B.C.

In 2016, work on the dam will include strengthening the structure and increasing the downstream and upstream slopes. The spillway will be replaced to allow for a higher capacity flow.

The drawn-down lake will now be dredged, and stocks of fish, turtles and others who call the lake home are in the process of being relocated to other suitable habitats.

The dam work is expected to be done by the end of this year, with upgrades to the surrounding park set for 2017.

And once again, the people of Cranbrook will rejoice in the purity of their water, and congratulations offered all ’round.

With thanks to David Humphrey